Friday, August 19, 2011

The Best Lunch

This is tastiest, most filling, quickest-to-prepare, vegetarian lunch you will ever eat. Make a big batch of the lentil soup. Keep it on hand in the fridge, along with your leftover naan bread (recipe to follow) in the freezer. At lunchtime, heat up the lentil soup and naan in the micro, butter the naan, and enjoy them both with a big glass of milk. The combo will keep you full for hours.

Indian-Style Lentils (Daal Bukhara, heavily adapted)
This recipe can be done on the stovetop or in the slow cooker.

1 cup lentils
4 tsp garlic puree*
4 tsp ginger puree or finely grated ginger root
1 tsp chile powder
¼ tsp salt
1 can tomato sauce or ½ can tomato paste
½ cup butter
2/3 cup cream, half and half, or milk

Boil the lentils in 6 cups of water until tender, about 1 hour. Or, if using the slow cooker, cook on high heat for an hour and then low heat for about five more hours.
Skim off some of the extra liquid, if necessary. Add the garlic paste, ginger paste, chili powder, salt, and tomato sauce or tomato paste. Stir well to make sure these ingredients dissolve. Simmer for another hour till the mixture is thick. This can be done on the stovetop or in the slow cooker.
Chop the butter and stir it into the lentils, allowing it to melt. You can reduce the butter to ¼ cup, but do not go below that or you will lose the richness of the soup. Add the cream or milk. Stir for about 15 minutes or until the fat is incorporated into the lentil mixture.

Serve with Naan bread and fresh veggies on the side. This soup can be garnished with additional butter.
This recipe is adapted from The Indian Menu Planner, Lustre Press/Roli Books. The original recipe is called “Daal Bukhara.” I cannot call my recipe that, because D.B. calls for black lentils. I have been unable to find black lentils, so I use brown lentils and they seem to work just fine. I like lentils because they cook so quickly.

*In the major city where I live, my local Kroger’s carries garlic and ginger purees, made by Gourmet Garden, in their salad section.