When I made this recipe, what started out as a vegetarian Irish stew turned into a hybrid Irish stew / Indian dal. The result was a nutritious, colourful and flavourful dish. The Indian spices with the black lentils, sumac, fresh parsley, tomatoes, glazed carrots, potatoes and a hint of cashew cream lend an earthy, savoury and spicy-warm flavour.
Of all the vegetarian stews I have made, this one is my favourite. Eating food that is unprocessed and as close to nature as possible, as in this recipe, not only tastes good but is also good for your health.
In fact, recent research suggests that cooking or boiling some vegetables actually increases their nutritional value. According to The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, antioxidants are enhanced when some vegetables are cooked. Boiling carrots increases carotenoid antioxidants. Even boiling or steaming tomatoes enhances their lycopene and nutritional content. As mentioned by Mark Bittman and Dr. David Katz in their conversation about eating right, our metabolism can more easily access the antioxidant that makes tomatoes redder when they’re cooked than when they’re raw.
Black lentil dal/stew with glazed carrots
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 1 cup dry black beluga lentils, rinsed in a strainer
- 1 red or yellow cooking onion, chopped
- 1 tsp garam masala powder
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1 tsp grated or powdered ginger
- 1 garlic bud, pressed
- 1 jalapeño red pepper, seeds removed
- 2-3 ripe tomatoes with peels, chopped
- 3 to 4 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade, but a good quality store-bought kind will do. Add more stock later, if need be. See note.*
- 1 cup pure tomato purée (with nothing else added)
- 4 tbsps cashew cream (or another type of nut or dairy cream)
- 3 small to medium-size potatoes (200 grams) with skins, sliced in fine rounds
- 10-12 mini carrots or sliced carrots (about 12 cm/5 inches long)
- 2 hanfuls of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
* Note: The lentils absorb the gravy. If you prefer more sauce, wait a little and add more vegetable stock when the dal/stew has settled.
In a big pot, heat up oil and lower the heat. Sautée onions for 8 minutes until soft and sweet. In small bowl, mix the garam masala, curry, sumac, ginger and garlic. Add the spices to the onions and sautée for 2 minutes (add a little water if it sticks at bottom). Add the lentils, red pepper and tomatoes and toss and stir. Add the veggie stock, tomato purée and 4 tbsps cashew cream. Add the sliced potatoes.
Let this all simmer and mix from time to time with lid half on for 30 minutes or until lentils and potatoes are tender. Meanwhile make the glazed carrots in a separate skillet (see recipe below).
Add fresh chopped parsley leaves and glazed carrots. For added flavour, don’t forget to pour a little water to the carrot glaze that is left in the bottom of the skillet to capture all of it and transfer this into the stew / Indian dal.
Let stand for 5 minutes.
Adjust veggie stock and serve. Store in covered container in fridge.
One-skillet glazed carrots
- 10-12 mini carrots
- some water (see below)
- 1 tablespoon (tbsp) + 1 teaspoon (tsp) granulated sugar cane
- 1 tbsp cashew cream, or other nut or dairy cream
- 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
Put the carrots in a skillet and add just enough water to cover the carrots (not more). Add 1 tbsp granulated sugar cane and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and let this boil genlty with lid half on for 20 minutes or until carrots are tender.
When tender, pour out some water but keep enough to cover the bottom of the skillet. To this, add the cashew cream, balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp granulated sugar cane. Raise the heat to high and frequently turn and roll the carrots until the water is reduced and carrots are glazed.