Thursday, March 22, 2012
Indian-Spiced Lentils and Lamb
One of the many things I love about the Monkey Scientist is that he's really willing to try just about anything I tell him to eat. Even if he doesn't like it, he'll at least give it a shot. I once made him try tripe in a Chinese restaurant (without telling him what it was) and even though he will never try it again, the fact that he did made me smile. Case in point was this meal - I told my Mom I was making Indian lentils and lamb for dinner and she said "oh, interesting" (which in our family means "please don't expect me to be eating that"). The Monkey Scientist, on the other hand, was excited! It makes cooking for him so much fun!
Despite this recipe not being my usual style of cooking, I knew this would be a recipe we'd like because of the spice factor. Curry powder + cayenne + jalapeno is a spicy combo. Right up our alleys. Fortunately for me, the greek yogurt cools the palate back down. Also, by serving this on top of rice, it made the whole dish a lot more mild - definitely something I'd recommend if the spiciness scares you (and to add more substance to the whole dish).
I liked that this recipe was fairly low-cost. Although lamb can be expensive, you don't need that much of it in this meal. Lentils are one of my favorite money savers because they are filling and tasty, but only cost about 89 cents/bag (which is enough to make this recipe 2-3 times!). My biggest cost-grief is the coconut milk. My grocery store only has 1 brand and its nearly $4/can. Do you know where I can buy it cheaper (and maybe in half cans)?
This was one of my favorite low cost, healthy recipes I've made in a long time. Bold flavors do so much to make up for lower fat content in dinners. The spicy flavor combined with the sweetness of the coconut milk and tomatoes elevated inexpensive lentils. The little bit of lamb brought an otherwise vegetarian dish to an new level - but could be left out if you wanted to keep it vegetarian. The tang of the Greek yogurt was the perfect finishing touch. The color of the whole dish is gorgeous from the curry powder, tomatoes, and coconut milk. We both loved this one!
Indian-Spiced Lentils and Lamb
slightly adapted from Cooking Light
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 lb lean ground lamb
1 teaspoon red curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped and seeds removed
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 cup brown lentils
2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
3/4 cup light coconut milk
1 (15-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped (I actually added the juice too)
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (2% or fat free)
white rice, cooked (optional)
1. In a large, deep skillet, heat oil over medium high heat then add lamb, curry powder, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper, and cook for 2-3 minutes until it starts to brown.
2. Add onion and jalapeno and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes until the lamb is fully browned and the onions are soft.
3. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minute more until fragrant.
4. Add tomato paste, cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.
5. Add lentils, cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.
5. Add chicken broth, water, coconut milk, and tomatoes and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer. Cover and allow to simmer for 40 minutes or until lentils are tender.
6. Serve either in a bowl or over white rice and top with a dollop of Greek yogurt.