27 July 2012

Ginger Masala Lentil and Barley Stew

Need a hearty side dish? Need an easy, healthful meal?  My Ginger Masala Lentil & Barley Stew takes 30 minutes to make and gives you a delicious, flavorful food without having to do much more than rinse a few legumes.

The stew is not very attractive. Here is a photo of pretty rambutans instead.

One key element in interesting, creative cooking is spices. You can liven up a boring dish with an unconventional combination of spices. Combine flavors from different cuisines and you can feel like a chef at a mediocre fusion restaurant -- all in the comfort of your own home. For the Ginger Masala Lentil & Barley Stew, I have drawn elements from Cape Muslim and Thai cooking.  Stock up in Cape Town at the Atlas Trading Co. in the Bo-Kaap or Komati Foods in Obs if you are missing some of the spices below.
Ginger Masala Lentil & Barley Stew (serves 4)
1/2 cup dried red split lentils
1/2 cup dried barley
1 tbsp dried split peas
1 tbsp dried oat groats (optional)

2.5 cups water
1 or 2 tsp masala spice mix of your choice
1/2 tsp ground fennel
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 dried k-word lime leaves (Thai specialty!)
Small piece chopped fresh ginger

1 white onion, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
Extra seasonings: salt, pepper, squeeze of lemon, hot sauce, olive oil
1. Rinse dried legumes and grains. Place in medium or large pot.
2. Add water and bring to boil.
3. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, fry up coarsely chopped onions and garlic.
3. Add spices, lime leaves, and onions and garlic to main pot. (And biltong -- see Pro Tip below.)
4. Simmer for 25-30 minutes. Check in on stew every so often. Say hello.
5. Add salt, pepper, hot sauce, olive oil, and lemon to taste.

Enjoy in any number of ways. I recommend topping individual portions with seeds, crushed nuts, cheese, or a fried egg.

[ Pro tip: Add a few slices of fatty biltong with your spices to add serious depth. ]

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