Somewhere between sambar and daal, this flavorful bowl provides cozy comfort food on a cold day, but can also be surprisingly light and nourishing in the heat of summer. Whenever we whip up a big pot of this, there’s palpable excitement in the house: “Great food tonight! Even better leftovers tomorrow!”
2 cups red lentils
6 cups veggie broth (or veggie “Better Than Bouillon” concentrate)
4 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
4 tsp tamarind paste (optional)
3 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp tumeric
4 tbsp agave
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
3-5 medium sized Yukon Gold or other waxy/firm potatoes
6-8 cups assorted veggies
Optional: Magic Tahini Sauce • sprinkle of cilantro or parsley
Servings: This makes a big pot of food. It would be a suitable main course for 4-6 people, or will provide great leftovers for two people. It gets better the longer it sits. It will also hold up well in the freezer in pre-portioned servings. Reheated leftovers may dry out a bit as the lentils absorb more liquid; if this happens, just stir in an extra splash of water.
Veggies: You can use various veggies in this dish, as your taste or your pantry dictates. For this batch, I chose potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and zucchini. Some other good options are: bell peppers, summer squash, kale, spinach, broccoli, celery, peas, and so on! I recommend keeping the potatoes, though — it’s nice to have a starchy item for contrast.
Tamarind paste: Tamarind paste adds a lovely tangy “oompf” to this meal, although the dish is still great without it. Your best chance of finding tamarind paste as at an Indian or specialty grocer. One jar will live in your fridge forever, so if you see some, grab it!
Ginger: Every few months, I pre-chop a bunch of ginger and store it in a bag in the freezer. Then it’s done, and I can just grab some when I need it. It will keep its flavor well for several months — and if you still have some left after that, just add a little more to the recipe.
Put the lentils, veggie broth, and all the seasonings (i.e., everything except the potatoes and veggies) into a large pot over medium heat. Stir a few times to prevent the lentils from sticking to each other and the bottom of the pot.
Taste the liquid and see if you think you need more salt. This will depend on the saltiness of the broth you use, but you’ll probably end up adding a total of 1-2 tsp of salt eventually.
While that’s warming up, it’s time to prep your veggies. The goal is to add them in order of what will take the longest to cook, so you’ll start with the potatoes.
Peel the potatoes and cut them into large bites. You’ll want to use a firmer/waxier potato like a Yukon Gold, rather than a fluffy potato like a Russet, to reduce the risk of the potato pieces crumbling once cooked. Cutting larger pieces also ensures that your veggie pieces will survive re-heating without turning to mush. Add potatoes to the pot and stir.
Now move on to your second-slowest veggie. In my case, carrots! Cut into large bites and add. Pro tip: no one will notice if you don’t peel the carrots.
Repeat in order with your remaining veggies. After the carrots, I prepped and added cauliflower, then zucchini. You can take your time, and you don’t need to hurry through this process, since the first things you added need to cook longer anyway.
Once you’ve added everything, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes until all your veggies are cooked through. The best piece to test is a potato piece, since they take the longest. Stir the pot occasionally to prevent sticking. Taste the liquid again to see if you need to add any more salt. Your house will start to smell really good, so expect people to come check “how things are going” at this stage (translation: “How long do we have to wait until we can eat this?”).
Once the veggies are cooked, you’re ready to serve. It’s great as-is, but if you’re feeling fancy, Magic Tahini Sauce and a sprinkle of cilantro or parsley make a great garnish.