Quick Recipes and Easy

Vegetable Stew – Pt 2 of Vegetarian Lentil Soup Variations

Lentil soup, also known as dal in some countries including India, is a very high-protein, high-fiber, nutritious dish that can be served up plain as a snack, or over rice as part of a larger meal. It’s a staple food item in many countries.

Lentils are very inexpensive and are a fantastic substiute for meat proteins. Plain lentil soup tends to be a lacking in texture, if you’re eating it on its own. It’s versatile enough, but, to be turned into a vegetable stew. Although I would not recommend adding meat protein to a lentil stew as they will clash. The only exception is replacing some of the water used to cook the lentils with either chicken or turkey broth. Poultry broth adds a richness of taste without over-powering the rest of the ingredients.

In different parts of India, there are many variations of vegetable stews made with a dal base. Many of the recipes are passed down through family members. Here are some basic pointers for a vegetable dal/stew:

Green beans, snapped into 1-2 inch lengths. Frozen beans are okay, but fresh beans are much tastier. Try not to use beans you’ve already boiled/ steamed, as they’ll get mushy in the dal.Potatoes, large dice. Potatoes add texture at two levels. Firstly, they thicken the dal when the breakdown. The pieces that don’t break down add a bit of contrasting firmness against the dal.White radish, cut into 1/4 inch wide strips of about 1 inch in length.Eggplant, diced. For a bit of difference, try the small, globe-shaped green-striped Thai eggplants, or even the long, purple Asian eggplants. You could try white eggplants, but you won’t have a color contrast.Large diced onions, cut in 1/8ths or slivers. The slivered form adds a lot of texture, and onions, of course, add even more fiber.Broccoli, cut into medium-sized florets. Don’t use ground up pieces as they’ll make the stew mealy. Even better, unless you like your broccoli mushy, don’t add them to the stew until the last 15-20 minutes of cooking.
Cauliflower, cut into medium-sized florets. Cauliflower tends to hold up better than broccoli, but if you want a crisp texture, add it in the last 20-25 minutes of cooking. It’s probably a terrible thought to use both cauliflower and broccoli at the same time for textural and visual appeal reasons, although you are welcome to try.

You should feel free to experiment. Don’t add delicate items like peas, snow peas, celery, lettuce, corn kernels. They just don’t work very well, and ruin the texture. The balance is to contrast the smooth texture of the basic dal against large, chunky, tasty vegetables that keep some of their firmness after cooking.

Follow the ezinearticles.com/?id=132921 recipe instructions for a basic dal first. You can add uncooked diced potatoes at the beginning of the cooking processs. Once you are at the stage where the lentils have nearly fully broken down, you can add the rest of the firmer vegetables. Delight in!

(c) Copyright: 2006-present, Raj Kumar Dash

Raj Kumar Dash, also known as the very opinionated Elvis Parsley, the “Curry” Elvis, was taught cooking at his mother’s side. A trained cook, he writes about various world cuisines, the health-related aspects of food, food TV shows, and pretty much anything related to the food industry. You can find his new food site (still in revision) at curryelvis.com/ curryelvis.com/, and four older cooking blog archives by starting at curryelviscooks.blogspot.com curryelviscooks.blogspot.com.

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