India—Curried Chicken & Lentils

 

Indian Mainindia_lentil

Curried Chicken & Lentils
Dhansak
(Serves 6)

A savory chicken and lentil stew with a delicous curried sauce. Serve over rice.


1 C dried red lentils
Water
1/4 C vegetable oil
1 large onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (crushed or minced)
3 lb. chicken (cut into pieces)
3 1/2 C chicken broth
2-3 fresh green chilies (seeded and chopped)
4 scallions (chopped)
6 tomatoes (peeled, chopped)
3 medium potatoes (peeled, large chunks)
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. pepper
1-inch of fresh ginger (minced)
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 T coriander leaves (chopped)—garnish (see side bar)
4 fresh mint leaves (chopped) or 1/2 tsp. dried—garnish

Lentils: put lentils in a large saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hour.

Chicken: heat oil in a large skillet or wok and sauté onion till translucent. Add garlic and cook 3 more minutes. Add chicken pieces and brown till golden. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.

Assembly: drain lentils and add them, with broth, to skillet. Simmer (uncovered) till tender, about 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except fresh herbs.

Cook & Serve: cook (uncovered) 30 minutes. Add chicken pieces to the lentil mixture and cook (uncovered) 1 more hour, till chicken falls off the bone. Spoon onto a deep platter or into a large bowl, sprinkle with coriander and mint leaves. Serve with rice.

| See more Indian recipes |

Tips & Glossary

Many of the ingredients used for Indian cooking probably aren’t in your spice shelf. And you may find them only at specialty Indian stores. So to avoid frustration, make a list of the items you need before trying out the recipes.

Watch out for those chilies! Unless you love the real hot stuff, reduce the amount of chili called for in the recipe.

Asafoetida: a powdered spice related to the fennel family.

Basmati Rice: literally “Queen of fragrance." This rice, cultivated in India, is known for its delicate flavor and fragrance.

Besan: also known as “gram flour,” made of ground chana dal, like chickpeas, only smaller and lighter in color.

Cardamom: related to the ginger family. Pods (green, brown, or black) are the best way to store cardamom. But high-quality ground is also available. A rule of thumb: 10 pods = 1 1/2 tsp. ground.

Chili: any small hot pepper, as opposed to larger, milder bell peppers; widely used in Indian cuisine.

Coriander: aka cilantro, Chinese, or Mexican parsley. Both fresh leaves and dried ground seeds are used in Indian, Asian and Mexican cuisines.

Cumin: an aromatic, kin to parsley and carrot plant; an important ingredient in chili powder. Used especially in Indian curries. It has an earthy, peppery flavor.

Curry: a generic term for a soups and stews flavored with variety of spices—most often cumin, coriander, and tumeric, but others as well. You can make curry powder or buy it commercially.

Garam Masala: literally, “hot spice,” usually a mixture of cinnamon, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, and green cardamom seed or black cardamom pods. McCormick makes it; even Cooks Illustrated rated it highly.

Ghee: clarified butter. Melt 1 lb. unsalted butter over low heat for 20 minutes (careful not to burn), remove from heat and skim away solids. Strain through cheesecloth into a separate container and keep…forever. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated. If you buy commercial ghee, make sure it comes from real butter, not hydrogenated oils.

Saffron: stigma from the crocus family; it’s the most expensive spice in the world. Buy saffron threads; before using them, steep in a little hot water for 10 minutes to release flavor.

 

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