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Friday, February 14, 2014

Chickpea and Lentil Stew

I wish I could have come up with a name for this recipe that is as delicious as this dish... but, alas, all I have is the humble "Chickpea and Lentil Stew." And there is meat in there. We're carnivores around here (not that we dislike vegetarian dishes, but we're partial to meat).

The first time I made this, I had a pound of lamb and was shooting from the hip. I knew the flavor profile I was shooting for and just went for it. I was multitasking (as I am wont to do these days!) and didn't take the time to write down what I put in it. Boy was I sorry once this dish was done. It was fantastic! At first taste, I immediately knew I would have to make it again, and soon, before I completely forgot what I had done. On round two, I made a bigger pot of it (now that I knew it would be good!) and I only had beef on hand. While it is delicious both ways, if you can find the lamb, I heartily recommend it. It adds a depth of flavor to the dish that beef just can't provide.

This stew is robust and flavorful. It has a Middle Eastern edge, but - as far as I know - is not authentic in any way (I did make it up as I went, after all). The chickpeas are substantial yet creamy (especially if you use ones canned without salt), and the lentils make a nice, hearty gravy. The cumin and garam masala seasoning gives it a lovely warmth. Yup, it's a keeper!

Chickpea and Lentil Stew
Yield: serves 6-8

1 1/2 - 2 pounds ground lamb (or beef)
1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
30 ounces canned chickpeas, drained (aka garbanzos - salt free, if possible)
2 TBS tomato paste
15 oz can petite diced tomatoes, with juice
4 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 cups beef stock
1 1/2 cups red lentils
salt, to taste

In a large Dutch oven (or heavy stock pot), brown the meat and drain off the fat. Over medium high heat, add the remaining ingredients. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Continue heating until the mixture just comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover to simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally. Depending on the brand of lentils, you may need to add a little water to keep the stew loose. Just add a little at a time until the stew is the consistency you want. Keeps very well in the refrigerator for one week.

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