Monday, February 18, 2013

Curried Lentils Ginger Raita and Fenugreek Scented Carrots

I was inspired to make Curried Lentils with Fenugreek Scented Carrots and Ginger Raita after seeing this gorgeous carrot and yogurt post on one of my favorite blog's, Merci Mama

For the lentils, I used the personal curry recipe of Madhur Jeffrey, Indian cuisine extraordinaire and author of the inspiring tome, World Vegetarian. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves cooking with spices or just wants to become more comfortable with them. All of her recipes work perfectly, which is a claim not all cookbooks can make, and it's also very easy to follow. If you don't have all the spices needed for the curry, don't fret, just go ahead and use any curry powder you have on hand.

For the raita, I used a very thick Greek yogurt that thinned to a nice consistency as the cucumbers released their liquid. If you use a thinner yogurt you may want to toss the diced cucumbers with a pinch of salt and let them drain in a colander for 20 minutes before combining them with the yogurt. If you like a thin raita, or don't care either way, go ahead an follow this as is. Just taste it and adjust the seasoning if needed before serving! 

Ginger Raita
1 cup plain yogurt
1 large cucumber (about a cup)
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon red onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 Tablespoon green chile, minced finely
1 Tablespoon ground dried mint (or 2 Tablespoons fresh mint, minced)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Set in the refrigerator to chill and allow the flavors to develop. Make this first so there's plenty of time for the spices to infuse the yogurt.

Curry Powder 
Adapted from from Madhur Jeffrey's, World Vegetarian
2 Tablespoons whole coriander seeds
1 Tablespoon whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons whole brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole fenugreek seeds
2 dried red chilies (about an 1 1/2 inches long each), crumbled
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric

Place everything but the turmeric in saute pan or cast iron skillet and toast over low heat until aromatic. Add the turmeric and toast for a few seconds longer. Transfer to a plate to cool and then grind to a fine powder with a spice grinder, mortar and pestle, or molcajete.

Note: Madhur's original recipe calls for 5-6 garlic cloves as well, but I omitted them in lieu of the garlic I used in the lentil recipe.

Curried Lentils
1 cup dried brown lentils, looked over for stones and rinsed
4 cups water
1 small white onion, minced finely or sliced into thin rings
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons curry powder (see below)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice to finish (optional)

Combine everything except for the lemon juice in a medium saucepan and simmer over low/medium heat for 30 minutes or so until the lentils are softened to just beyond al dente. Squeeze lemon juice over the lentils and fluff before plating.

Fenugreek Scented Carrots
6 carrots, peeled but left whole
2 cups water (approx.)
1 Tablespoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon salt 

In a saute pan large enough to fit the carrots without crowding, add the water, fenugreek seeds and salt and bring to a boil for about two minutes, stirring occasionally. The water should taste nice and salty and be well perfumed with fenugreek. Add the carrots and cover for about four minutes, until they are bright orange and tender. Remove and serve over the lentils and raita immediately. Garnish with chives, coriander or dill.