“Kitchen Sink” Curry Lentil Beer Stew

Curry, from Flickr. I couldn't be bothered to take a photo of my stew.

Today was the first day the temperature’s dropped below 85 here in eastern Oregon. It’s been 60s and windy all day, and I biked around town wearing a thin shirt. I felt this strange sensation I have not experienced in some time called cold. I had not missed it.

But being cold always encourages my cooking mojo, as does harvest season. Every year, I buy a ton of random bits of whatever looks good–some tomatillos here, zucchini there, carrots, parsnips, swiss chard–and then I end up throwing it all in a stew with a bunch of curry spices. I don’t care what kind of vegetables you have, you can’t go wrong with curry.

So this stew is quite delicious even when vegan, though sometimes I stir in some butter or top it with plain yogurt just out principle. Dairy is life!

If you find yourself with oddments of vegetables and want a comforting stew to warm you on cool fall nights, here’s a rough outline of what to do. I like red lentils best, because they cook up quickly, but you can use whatever you like. Beer is doubtless not a traditional Indian flavor component, but I find it really makes the flavor when cooking something that doesn’t have the benefit of meat to make it tasty.

Kitchen Sink Curry Beer Stew (Serves: 2 or 3 for dinner)

1/2 cup red lentils

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced

About 3 cups of assorted vegetables, diced (suggestions: carrots, potatoes, parsnips, tomatoes, jalapenos, tomatillos)

3 or 4 teaspoons curry powder

Your preferred soup stock or broth

4 or 5 tablespoons of lager or a light ale

Salt, pepper

In a soup pot, heat up some cooking oil and saute onions til soft. Mince garlic, toss it in and stir for a minute until fragrant. Pour in two cups of water and bring to a boil. Stir in lentils, cover, and cook until fairly soft, stirring occasionally. They’ll break down a lot as the stew cooks and serve as sort of a thickener.

Anyhoo, once lentils are tender pour in another two or three cups of water or soup stock and boil the rest of your veggies. While they cook up, add in your spices. Taste as you go. A lot. If it seems bland or thin, pour in a few tablespoons of beer, let the alcohol cook off, and taste it again. Add some more beer, if you need to. Don’t forget salt and pepper.

Once stew is tender, serve with a dollop of cream or plain yogurt on top if you like, to balance out the heat. And drink the rest of your beer, of course.

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