Spicy Red Lentil Stew with Coconut Milk & Spinach

This Indian stew was fast to prepare, loaded with spices and flavor, and was absolutely fabulous. What a combination! If that wasn’t enough, it was also a hearty vegetarian dish with a little bit of heat. All my favorites.

This recipe is from Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball. It is a simplified version of a classic Goan dish. I increased the amount of onion and served the stew with warm naan and chopped grape tomatoes on the side as an optional garnish.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 T coconut or peanut oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • kosher salt
  • 3 tsp finely grated fresh ginger, divided
  • 2 tsp yellow or brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp freshly ground fennel seeds
  • 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 13.5 to 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 cup split red lentils, rinsed
  • 6 oz (about 6 cups) baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1/2 to 1 lime
  • unsweetened coconut flakes, for garnish, optional
  • chopped tomatoes, for garnish, optional
  1. In a large saucepan over medium to medium-high, combine the onion, oil, garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened and are just beginning to color, 7 to 9 minutes.
  3. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the grated ginger, the mustard seed, turmeric, coriander, fennel, and red pepper flakes.
  4. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the water, coconut milk, and lentils, then bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the lentils have broken down, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  7. Uncover and stir in the spinach; return to a simmer.
  8. Off the heat, add the remaining 1 teaspoon of grated ginger and the lime juice.
  9. Season with salt to taste.
  10. Serve, garnished with coconut flakes and chopped tomatoes, as desired.

Winter Squash & Red Bean Mole

This is an another amazing vegetarian chili variation. Hearty too. It was especially wonderful for me as well because it incorporated a lot of flavors typically used in a traditional Mexican mole, one of my absolute loves.

This recipe was adapted from The Moosewood Restaurant Table: 250 Brand-New Recipes from the Natural Foods Restaurant that Revolutionized Eating in America from the Moosewood Collective. I doubled the recipe, increased the garlic, and omitted the ground fennel. We ate it with corn muffins and a green salad. Fabulous!

Yield: Serves 8 to 12

  • 4 T olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onions (I used 2 large onions)
  • 10-12 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp ground fennel seeds, optional
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 T chopped fresh thyme of 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup seeded and chopped poblano peppers (can substitute cubanelle peppers)
  • 3 cups seeded and chopped red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (I used 2 red, 1 yellow, & 1 orange)
  • 6 cups diced butternut squash (bite-size cubes), from 1 medium butternut squash
  • 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 2/3 cups water
  • 6 T pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 T sesame seeds
  • 2 15-oz cans red kidney beans, drained
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped, or to taste
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 72% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • sour cream, for garnish
  • thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
  1. In a heavy bottomed pot on medium heat, warm the oil. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  2. Add the onions, garlic, fennel, cinnamon, thyme, salt, and black pepper and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the onions soften, stirring often to prevent sticking.
  3. Add the celery, poblano peppers, and bell peppers and cook for another 5 minutes until the peppers brighten and become fragrant.
  4. Stir in the squash and cook for a minute or two more.
  5. Add the tomatoes and water to the pot, cover, bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
  7. Using a spice grinder, mini food processor, or a mortar and pestle, finely grind the pepitas and sesame seeds.
  8. When the squash is tender, stir the ground seeds, kidney beans, chipotles to taste, and chocolate into the stew. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Stir in the cilantro.
  10. Garnish with more cilantro, sliced scallions, and/or sour cream, as desired.

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Sheet-Pan Chicken with Chickpeas, Cumin, & Turmeric

I love yogurt marinades because the resulting meat is always extremely tender. This dish was particularly great because it used a yogurt marinade with a short marinating time, only 30 minutes.  It was also a sheet-pan dish which made it a full-flavored weeknight meal.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Alison Roman. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in, and substituted caraway seeds for the fennel seeds. We ate it garnished with the yogurt sauce and lemony red onions, with Basmati rice and roasted vegetables on the side. Perfect.

  • 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, or 1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) chicken, cut into parts (alternatively, 3 to 3 1/2 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken parts, such as breasts, thighs and legs)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ½ cups full-fat Greek yogurt, divided
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric, divided
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds or fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup mint or cilantro leaves, torn
  • Basmati rice, for serving
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Combine 3/4 cup yogurt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon turmeric and 2 tablespoons water in a large bowl. Season well with salt and pepper. (It should be on the salty side, as this is a marinade.) Add chicken and toss to coat evenly. Let sit at least 30 minutes at room temperature, and up to overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Place oven rack on the top third of the oven and heat to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  4. Combine chickpeas, fennel/caraway seeds, cumin, remaining teaspoon of turmeric and half the red onion slices on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
  5. Move chickpeas to the outer edges of the baking sheet. Scrape any excess marinade off the chicken, and place the chicken parts in the center.
  6. Place baking sheet in oven and bake, tossing chickpeas occasionally, until the skin of the chicken is evenly browned and the chickpeas are golden and starting to crisp, about 30 minutes for boneless meat and up to 45 to 50 minutes for bone-in meat. Be sure to toss the chickpeas occasionally as they roast to encourage them to get coated in the chicken fat as it renders.
  7. Meanwhile, toss remaining onion slices with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; set aside.
  8. Combine remaining yogurt with remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; set aside.
  9. Once chicken is ready, scatter with lemony onions and mint or cilantro, as desired.
  10. Serve with seasoned yogurt alongside as a sauce.

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Macaroni Baked in Yogurt (Arshda Madznov)

Armenian Eggplant

This is a wonderful vegetarian Armenian dish that I prepared when I was thinking of starting a blog. I am ready to make it again! This recipe is adapted from The Yogurt Book by Arto Der Haroutunian via World Vegetarian Classics by Celia Brooks Brown. I increased the garlic from one to six cloves, used whole wheat penne noodles, and substituted campari tomatoes for vine ripened.

  • olive oil for frying and greasing
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 200g / 7 oz dried macaroni or other pasta shapes
  • 2 medium eggplants, about 450 g / 1 lb, sliced into thin circles, about 5 mm / 1/4 inch thick
  • 500 ml / 16 fl oz / 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp dried dill weed
  • 1-6 garlic cloves
  • 3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced into thin circles
  • 100 g / 3.5 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • 30 g / 1 oz / or 1/3 cup flaked or slivered almonds ( a good handful)
  • crisp green salad, to serve
  • 20 x 30 cm / 8 x 12 inch casserole or gratin dish
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the casserole or gratin dish with oil.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and salt it well. Cook the macaroni or pasta until al dente. Drain thoroughly.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add a shallow pool of oil. Add the aubergine slices and fry until soft and golden. Drain on paper towels.
  4. Beat together the yogurt, egg yolks, fennel seeds, dill, garlic and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Stir the pasta through this mixture to coat evenly. Scoop into the baking dish and smooth the surface.
  5. Cover the pasta with interleaved rows of sliced cooked eggplant and tomato. Sprinkle the feta and almonds over the top. Cook in the oven until hot, bubbly and golden on top, about 20-25 minutes. Serve with a crisp green salad.

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