Okay, Kork, awhile ago you asked for recipes using beans or lentils. I use them all the time, but kept forgetting to post. So now I'm making time to post...a new recipe tried just tonight. So that means it still needs tweaking, yet it's good enough to enjoy as-is now. If you like Indian food, this is a wonderful, flavorful combination of Indian and Iranian food. I scoured the internet for chicken dhansak recipes (my favorite thing to get when we eat at Indian restaurants), finding variety after variety that differed greatly in both ingredients and method. This is the one I am going with until my dream cookbook arrives. It is actually a combination of three different recipes. I made it in the crock pot so that we'd have dinner ready when we got back from a medical appointment in Vancouver, mainly so my hungry self wouldn't beg my husband to take us out for dinner. End result? Who needs to go out when food at home can be this good?
My only warning...you must have a good variety of spices in your kitchen. If not, you'll need to build up slowly. I only had to buy a couple, since I've slowly been adding to my collection. I currently use mainly ground spices, but you can use whole ones if you have a mortar and pestle.
1 large yam or sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in small cubes
1 c. red split lentils
1 c. brown or green lentils
1/4 c. split peas
1 T. sunflower oil or any groundnut oil
1 red onion, chopped in small pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced fine
2 T. fresh ginger, minced fine (I buy fresh ginger on sale and store it in a freezer bag in our deep freeze so it's there whenever I need it without necessitating a trip to the grocery)
2 T. Tamarind paste (I had Tamarind preserves from Guadelupe and used that instead)
5-6 dried red chillies (DanPak has some basic red chillies you can easily find.)
1 tsp. Turmeric
2 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Coriander
1/4 tsp. Cloves (ground, or 2 whole cloves otherwise)
2 tsp. Garam Masala
1/2 tsp. Cardamom
1 Cinnamon stick, broken in 2 or 3 pieces
1 tsp. Demerara sugar (a dark brown sugar)
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
2 T. Malt Vinegar (I confess that I used another type since I didn't have that one in my pantry.)
1 small can diced tomatoes in liquid (maybe 1.5 c. size)
3 c. boiling chicken stock
2 T. Cilantro, chopped fresh
1. In chicken stock, boil green/brown lentils and split peas for a few minutes. (do NOT add the red lentils to this!) Drain the lentils, reserving the stock.
2. Put sweet potato, chicken pieces, split peas and both types of lentils in crock pot and stir well.
3. Heat oil in separate pan and saute onion, garlic, and ginger for a 3 minutes over medium heat. Stir in dried chillies and dried spices and cook another minute.
4. Add sugar, tomatoes with their juices, vinegar, and chicken stock and bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Then pour carefully over chicken mixture in crock pot.
5. Stir; cover; and cook on low 6-7 hours. At the 6 hour mark, check liquid level. You will most likely have a thick mixture and will want to add about 2 cups of water and cook a few minutes longer. You want to have a slightly soupy mixture for the Naan bread to having something to soak up. The reason you don't add the water at the beginning is because it is easier to achieve a desired consistency by adding more water than trying to deal with something that is too soupy from the beginning.
6. Ladle into a large serving bowl, taking care to scoop out cinnamon pieces (which will have uncurled into woody rectangles) and red chillies. Sprinkle freshly chopped cilantro on top. Serve over rice with Naan bread on the side. (We cheated and bought rice when we picked up hot Naan bread and Samosas at the local Indian cafe on the way home, but normally we'd use brown Basmati rice.)
*We found this not too spicy at all for our toddler. The flavors will intensify the following day and meld even more. This served two, plus leftovers for both of us to have lunch, and enough to freeze a dinner's worth when we have Indian night with friends in a couple of weeks. If you want to adjust the heat of the spice more, you could add green chillies, or 1/4-1/2 tsp. of hot chili powder.