There are times when I really want a hearty meal but don’t have the energy to stand and cook an elaborate meal. It is at times like that I turn to One pot meals, served with a warm baguette it is a filling, healthy and easy and quick to meal option which NO compromise on taste whatsoever! Moreover, its homemade, has flavour and is a satisfying experience to make .
I had been meaning to try and cook a stew using red lentils (masoor – Marathi for red lentil )for some time , they are my most favourite lentils and I am ALWAYS stocked up on a large 2 kilo pack of dried red lentils split and without skin , from my local Indian grocery shop at Tooting called Dadu’s. Also since all the other fresh ingredients were procured from my local LIDL this dish is GREAT value for money too! Am totally in love with the FRESH fruits and vegetable selection at LIDL right now.I bought some bright red long crunchy sweet peppers, a pack of medium hot chillies, fresh chicken breast fillets, a very cute packet of garlic, mixed pack of cauliflower and broccoli florets and a packet of gorgeous looking Shallots.( I have always wondered why the lentils are called RED when clearly they are a lovely light orange colour !)
I love inventing a recipe as I go along and when I got my vegetable tray out on Sunday morning I had all these lovely vegetables staring at me and I just threw in what I thought would taste good together and VOILA ! A Steaming hot , thick, wholesome and tasty chicken and red lentil broth was born.
I love having some baby potatoes in stock and they are always handy in a stew , besides being quite the self-proclaimed ”queen of curries” I always am well stocked on Indian spices so bay leaves and cinnamon sticks aplenty in my kitchen larder – oh yes
Please don’t feel put off by the ingredient list , trust me they marry well together in the taste department and the end result is well worth your time and effort!
The biggest bonus of this stew recipe is that you can create your OWN vegetarian version by replacing the chicken with Quorn or if you don’t for some reason like or have never tried or have no access to Quorn then try replacing the chicken fillets with Suran/Elephant Foot Yam, it can be chopped into big chunks and it takes up flavours very easily. But with the yam the cooking time drastically will reduce as it can go from just right and chewy to soft, goeey or totally disappear into the stew ! My aai (mum) always used suran as a meat replacement and marinated it well in the spices we would use for chicken or lamb and made a thick gravy dish with it, when I was younger she has managed to fool me many times over thinking it was mutton 🙂 – Aai I miss you and all the food you cook – sigh…. no India trip in sight anytime soon 🙁
(Dangerous though it looks the elephant foot yam is very very tasty! )
Serves:4 Preparation Time: 10 minutes Cooking time:35 minutes
- Red Lentils / Massor Dal -3/4th cup
- Chicken breast mini fillets – 750gm / Comparable Quorn fillets
- 5-6 baby potatoes
- 6 shallots approx 200gm
- 2 large sweet and crunchy pointed Red Peppers – approx 200gm
- 2 short medium hot chillies
- 2-3 bay leaves dry
- red chilli flakes as per taste
- sea salt as per taste
- 1 veg stock pot
- 3 dried red Kashmiri chillies
- 1 large roll of cinnamon
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
- a handful of Broccoli and Cauliflower florets
- 2 large tbsp of tomato puree or half of a large tomato finely chopped
- Red chilli powder
- Sugar 2 tsp
- Wash and soak the red lentil in water to soften them so they cook more quickly then get on with all the other chopping and cutting prep’s.
- Chop the shallots lengthwise.
- In a large stew pot or huge saucepan heat the oil and add the bay leaves,cinnamon stick and dry red kashmiri chillies which I have a very big packet of and am trying to finish , they only add colour and no heat so if you don’t have these you can totally leave them out – no harm done here.
- Now add red chilli powder and sugar and just when the sugar starts to caramelise add the shallots and shallow fry them till they reduce and begin to turn a lovely brown colour.
- Now add the 2 large tbsp’s of tomato puree or half of a large tomato finely chopped and stir till it mixes well with the shallots.
- Add the roughly chopped long red peppers and baby potatoes and saute’ for 2 minutes.
- Add the washed chicken fillets/suran (elephant yam), soaked red lentils with the water it was soaked in.
- Add the washed and roughly chopped Broccoli and Cauliflower florets and now add enough water.
- I did not measure the water I added but add enough to get a nice thick stew , while the ingredients are cooking together on a low flame ,feel free to top up with more water as the lentils easily soak up as much water as you feed it with. Having said that you don’t want to end up with a watery stew so don’t add more than 3/4th cup at one go.
- Season with sea salt , I love MALDON SEA SALT which I use and I have a few packets ALWAYS stashed away, great n salads it is!
- Then sprinkle red chilli flakes and gently place a veg stock cube on top on this lovely pot of goodness bubbling away. I prefer the KNORR veg stock cubes , they have a great bouquet of flavour and are very handy at times when am exhausted and need to quickly cook up something tasty!
- Stir well, cover with a lid and cook on a medium flame.
- The red lentil will froth as they cook not to worry simply stir now and then and mix well, don’t allow the stew to get too thick we want enough lovely gravy to slurp this stew and dip the baguette into!
I was so hungry that I didn’t click any photos of my lovely fresh ingredients but it was a brilliantly sunny day yesterday and after this wholesome stew for lunch we had to really force ourselves to go and get some much needed fresh air at Morden Hall Park – I happily left my smartphone behind so photos to share but suffice to say that it was a gorgeous walk through the huge grounds and we saw many happy families ,happy couples and cute old folks and even happier kids and dogs romping around in the muddy park fun! And because we were so good we treated ourselves to hot tea and a sandwich at a local Turkish Cafe 😉 hehehe
Am very happy and proud of this new original recipe creation from my experimental kitchen. Next time I make this stew I will smoke the sweet and crunchy long red peppers and peel off the skin , to add a deep smoky flavour to the stew and not have the skin floating around – double whammy I say 🙂