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Curried Lentil Stew is Not Photogenic

March 14, 2008

A cup of red lentils

Why is vegetarian food often so unattractive and difficult to photograph? All the vegetables and grains look so beautiful before they’re cooked, but inevitably the outcome is monochromatic mush, and no matter how good it tastes, it refuses to look lovely on film or even to look that appealing in my bowl. Which is a shame. Because this Curried Lentil Stew, which I found at Everybody Likes Sandwiches, is freaking delicious, but I have a feeling that meat-eating manly men like Mr. X would take one look at it and flee. Kale? Mushy lentils? Rice? Noooooo!!!

Well whatever, then, more for me. A lot more for me: This recipe could feed 10 people. It would be a great thing to make before a week when you know you’re going to be really busy, so you could just subsist on this huge bowl of healthy lentils rather than resorting to take out or something horrifically full of sodium and preservatives. In fact, I suspect that I will in future do just that, and I wish I could send a big bowl of it to Miss Crystal in Spain before her next round of finals.

I’ve actually never cooked with lentils before. I always figured that, like dried beans, they’d be more of a pain that they’d be worth.  Now I know, though, that they are not really a pain at all, and they are so hearty and comforting that I will have to seek out many more lentil recipes before summer hits and I no longer feel the need for hearty and comforting. And kale? Kale is delicious! Where has kale been all my life?

The only real changes I made to Jeannette’s recipe were to add carrots and substitute kale for the rainbow chard. Oh, and I didn’t use five cloves of garlic, because, wow, that just seems like a LOT of garlic.

Pot of kale and stuff

I served it with white rice instead of brown, because I hate that brown rice takes forty-five million hours to cook. And I’ve been eating it all week. I love it. I crave it. I will definitely make it again.

Curried Lentil Stew

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 small carrots, sliced
  • 2 heaping T. curry paste (I used green)
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 5 1/2 c. vegetable broth
  • 2 c. red lentils
  • 1 bunch of kale, chopped roughly
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat, and when it’s nice and hot add the onions. Saute for about a minute, then add the garlic. Saute for another minute before adding the carrots, and then let it all cook for about five minutes, or until the onions are translucent and soft.

Add the curry paste and the red pepper flakes, and stir it all up together so the paste coats everything thickly. It made my eyes seriously water, so watch out! Then add the broth and the kale and bring the liquid to a boil (took much longer than I expected).

Curried lentil stew

Once the broth is boiling, add the lentils and stir all all together well. Turn the heat down to low, so the broth stays simmering, add the chickpeas, and cover the pot. Let it all cook away, giving it just the occasional stir, until the lentils are soft and the mixture has thickened a bit, for about 15 or 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper (don’t forget like I did, because lentils are kind of bland and this stuff really needs salt), and serve the stew over some rice or grains of your choosing.

Mixed up lentils

Look, doesn’t that look like perhaps the healthiest thing ever? It’s certainly the healthiest thing I’ve cooked in the last few months. And don’t let it’s monochromatic-ness stop you. It really is delicious.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2008 9:34 am

    I think all food is hard to photograph; it jusn’t smile back at you. But I love the title of your post, very clever.

  2. March 17, 2008 11:06 am

    If it helps any, the bottom photo is very photogenic… it looks like an authentic Indian meal, minus the fork. The top one, well, yeah…

  3. Crimson permalink
    March 18, 2008 11:32 am

    I have been all about the Kale lately – and soup. We keep making kale, mushroom and barley soup (with sausage of course). Delicious. And no, it never looks good, not even in person.

  4. March 23, 2008 3:23 pm

    glad you loved this stew…and so did my picky husband too. unphotogenic? i think your photos are lovely!

  5. Hungry Hungry Vegan permalink
    February 11, 2009 5:51 pm

    I spent almost 2 hours online trying to find a decent curried lentil stew, and months trying to come up with something NEW to cook. This is absolutely wonderful…

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