Finally, we're done with our 68 days of 100 degree plus temperatures here in Austin, and we've moved into our fall. This is the time of year that reminds me why we all put up with the hell that is summer; finally, we have endless days of 70 to 80 degrees with nights dipping down into the high 40s. It's sunny and glorious outside most of the time, with the occasional booming thunderstorm and downpour - but I like those too, after the drought we've had (and are still having).
The cooler temps mean it's the perfect time of year to try my hand at some of the easier recipes in my new How to Cook Everything book from Mark Bittman. I have been worshipping at the altar of @bittman (as he's known on Twitter) ever since my book arrived back at the beginning of the month. I've made beans, pastas, sauces, and even a sort of kickass set of lemon bars, if I do say so myself, but this recipe for curried lentils and potatoes is one that I know I'm going to come back to again and again.
It's easy and takes about an hour, most of which is inactive time. Best of all for clumsy ninnies like me, the only thing you have to cut to make this dish is two potatoes. It makes your house smell like warm spice and sticks to your ribs, but is remarkably healthy. I think I'm going to make it to welcome Logan back to town next week.
This recipe is vegetarian (if you don't use a meat stock to cook the lentils) and could be vegan if you omit the yogurt garnish.
Recipe after the jump:
Lentils and Potatoes with Curry from How to Cook Everything Tenth Anniversary Edition by Mark Bittman
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 1 hour
1 cup dried brown lentils, washed and picked over
3 1/2 cups water, coconut milk, or stock, plus more if needed (I used water and it was good)
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 medium starchy potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Yogurt and chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
1. Combine the lentils, liquid, and curry powder in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low so that the mixture bubbles gently, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils start to absorb the water a bit, about 15 minutes.
2. Add the potatoes and cover the pan completely. Cook undisturbed for 10 minutes or so, then stir gently and check to make sure the lentils aren't too dry. (At this point, you can add 2 tablespoons butter for a smoother mixture, if you want.) If they are, add a bit more liquid. Add salt as the lentils become tender.
3. Cover and continue cooking until the lentils are soft and beginning to turn to mush and the potatoes are tender at the center, another 5 to 10 minutes; add liquid if necessary. The mixture should be moist but not soupy. Add lots of black pepper, stir, then taste and adjust the seasoning and serve, garnished with yogurt and cilantro.