This Indian spiced stew with lentils and lamb is a perfect dish to usher in a little cool weather that many of us have been experiencing. It’s not a heavy winter stew that needs a long simmer and warms your bones. It’s more of what I call a “transitional” dish that bridges the gap between summer and fall.
I completely re-wrote the order of cooking this stew and I’ll tell you why. Lamb can be fatty and leave a heavy after-taste. You’ll hear people say they don’t like lamb. There are many reasons, but I believe that one of the reasons is it's the fatty flavor of the lamb that they don’t like.
The original recipe called for browning the lamb, then adding the vegetables to the skillet, and cooking them together. I reversed the process and cooked the vegetables first, then set them aside. Then I cooked the lamb separately, strained it well with paper towels to remove any fat, and added it to the cooked vegetables to eliminate any fatty flavors associated with the lamb.
And here in lies a question - do you ever make a decision to cook a recipe differently than how it was originally written? I’m not talking about substituting or changing ingredients. I’m talking about actually re-writing the recipe’s instruction. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Regarding ingredients. The recipe called for red curry powder, which I couldn’t find at our local supermarket. I substituted yellow, but I might seek out the red next time. Here’s a link for information about the difference in curry powders. If you don’t like it too spicy, go light on the red pepper. At the end of the cooking time the stew was drier than I liked, so I added the juice from the tomatoes and more coconut milk.
We love lamb and we thought it brought an incredible amount of flavor to this, but ground turkey or lean ground beef would also work. Ordinary brown lentils were called for and I don’t think it’s necessary to use the French ones in this. Save the good ones for when they are the star of recipe, not a secondary player.
Indian-Spiced Lentils and Lamb Stew
Adapted from Cooking Light – serves 4
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped onion
¾ cup peeled and chopped carrot
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon curry powder, red if you have it
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¾ cup brown lentils
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 ounces lean ground lamb
1 cup water
¾ cup light coconut milk, plus more if needed
1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped, (save juice to use later if needed)
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped plus 4 sprigs for garnish
Reduced fat Greek yogurt or low fat sour cream
Add the olive oil to a 10” non-stick skillet, swirl to coat, and turn heat to medium-high. When hot, add onions, carrot, and jalapeno and sauté about 10 minutes until vegetables soften and begin to brown. Add garlic, curry powder, cumin, salt and pepper and stir well. Sauté 30 seconds, then add tomato paste. Sauté about 2 minutes until tomato paste is well incorporated in the vegetables. Add the lentils and stir for a minute or two. Remove the vegetables and lentils to a stockpot.
Wipe the skillet out and add two teaspoons of olive oil, swirl, and heat over medium high heat. Add lamb, breaking it up with a spoon and brown for a few minutes until done. Strain cooked lamb in a strainer lined with paper towels to remove any of the fat. Add cooked lamb to the stockpot with the vegetables, then add the water, coconut milk and tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are done. Take care not to let the stew stick. You may need to add more coconut milk and/or the juices from the tomatoes. (I used both.) Add chopped cilantro and stir to incorporate.
Ladle one cup of the stew into each of 4 bowls and garnish with 1 tablespoon of yogurt and a sprig of cilantro. Serve right away.
This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, Foodtastic Friday at Not Your Ordinary Recipes, Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper, Food on Friday at Carole's Chatter, and On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable.