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Red Lentil Dhal
makes 6-8 servings

Toasting and grinding your seeds is so worth the effort, and doesn’t take long at all. Serve this dhal as a main dish with rice or as a side dish. It is aromatic, rich and delicious.

Ingredients
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 medium yellow onion
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried red lentils
2 tablespoon tomato paste
4-5 cups water or veg broth
5 plum tomatoes, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 cup lightly packed chopped fresh cilantro

Spice blend
2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 whole cloves
4 cardomom pods

2 dried red chilis (seeds removed)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions
In a saute pan over medium heat, toast the seeds (but not the dried red chili) for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from pan and let cool. Transfer to coffee grinder, along with the dried red chili and cinnamon, and grind to a fine powder. Over medium-high heat oil a soup pot, add onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and saute 5 more minutes. Add spices and salt, saute 5 minutes more. Add 4 cups of water and stir to deglaze the pot. Add tomato paste and lentils. Bring to a boil then lower the heat a bit and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes, lime juice and cilantro and more water if it looks too thick. Simmer 10 more minutes, or until lentils are completely tender.

RECIPE NOTES: Surprise! I didn’t vary too much from this original recipe except to add about two cups of shredded spinach to the last 10 minute simmer. I also grated in some lime zest simply because I love how it tastes. It needed no extra water after 30 minutes of simmering, and as it sat and cooled it thickened quite a bit, so if you get an end result that seems thin, don’t despair. After a night in the fridge it was thicker still.

I did cook the onions until they were slightly browned and rather soft; I love the flavor they impart with this amount of cooking. Beware when you add the water after cooking the spices and onion mixture- the pan will splatter a lot!

TOAST the spices!! TOAST the spices! TOAST the spices!

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Moroccan Chicken

3# chicken thighs, fat trimmed
4 T. tagine spices
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
4 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1/2 c. pitted kalamata olives

Wash and trim chicken, leaving skin intact. Mix spices, garlic, oil, salt and pepper to a smooth paste and pour over chicken, turning to coat thoroughly. Marinate for up to three hours.

In a large stock pot, heat some oil of choice and saute onions until soft. Remove to bowl. Brown chicken on all sides, scrape any marinade leftover in bowl into pot and add about a cup of water. Stir thoroughly. Add in onions and stir to incorporate. Lay lemon slices on top. Bring to a boil, cover and allow to simmer slowly until chicken is very tender but still holds together, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Stir in olives and remove skin before serving. Lemon slices can be consumed and are delicious.

Notes: I have done this recipe with minced garlic and for some reason it just doesn’t work as nicely. The slices of garlic hold up very well in the cooking process and become very tender and sweet to eat. You don’t need to slice the garlic; I know it’s hard and a pain, but the end result is worth the effort.

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Curry Cashew Chicken Salad

From The Curry Book by Nancie McDermott

2 cups cooked chicken
1/2 c. dried cherries, cranberries or raisins
1/2 c. chopped roasted salted cashews
2 green onions, finely chopped

Dressing:
1/2 c. mayo or preferred creamy spread
2 T. mango chutney or fruit spread of choice
2 t. curry powder
2 t. red wine vinegar
1/4 t. fresh ground pepper
1 t. dijon mustard

Combine chicken, fruit, nuts and onion in bowl. Separately, mix together dressing ingredients and stir until combined and creamy. Pour over salad and stir thoroughly to coat. Chill. Eat.

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Curried Vegetables with Yellow Daal and Coconut Rice

For the Daal:
1 ½ c. either red lentils or yellow split peas
4-5 c. water

Use 4 c. water for lentils; 5 for split peas. Rinse legumes well. Place legumes and water in heavy pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until legumes are tender. Puree in batches in food processor with cooking water, adding more if necessary for smoothness. Daal will thicken upon standing.

Curried Vegetables:
Vegetable oil or ghee
1 chopped onion
2 red peppers, cored and diced
½ head cauliflower, broken into florets
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
5-6 oz. fresh spinach
2 T. fresh grated ginger root
1 T. mild curry powder
1 t. ground cumin
1 ½ c. water or vegetable broth
Juice of half a fresh lemon
Salt to taste

In a deep skillet, heat oil or ghee and add onions, cook until soft and translucent. Add peppers, cook until soft. Stir in cauliflower, curry powder and cumin. Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in sweet potatoes and grated ginger. Stir to combine. Pour in water, stir to incorporate and bring to a boil. Cover and cook until cauliflower and potato are fork tender but still firm. De-stem and coarse chop spinach. When vegetables are tender, stir in spinach and lemon juice. Simmer to wilt spinach then serve immediately with the Daal and Coconut Rice.

Coconut Rice
1 ½ c. water
1 c. basmati rice
½ c. coconut milk
½ t. turmeric
¼ t. kosher salt
1 cinnamon stick
¼ c. currants or golden raisins

In a saucepan with a tight fitting lid, bring water to a boil. Rinse rice well, and add to boiling water along with all the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and remove cinnamon stick before serving

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Pork Strips with Peanut Sauce and Rice Noodles

½ c. boiling water
1/2 c. peanut butter
2 T. rice vinegar
2 T. soy sauce
1 t. garlic
1 t. ginger
2 t. fresh lime juice
1 t. sesame oil
1 t. chili garlic sauce
1 t. honey
½ t. cornstarch
1 # thick cut boneless pork chops, trimmed of fat and cut in thin strips across the grain
2 red or orange bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 c. snow pea pods, cut in half
1 c. shredded carrot

Cooked rice, rice noodles or thin spaghetti to serve. Garnish with thin sliced green onions, fresh squeezed lime juice, cilantro and crushed peanuts.

Combine first 11 ingredients in bowl. Saute vegetables to desired tenderness; remove to bowl, add pork to pan and cook until no longer pink. Add sauce mix and stir to coat. Bring to a boil and boil one minute. Serve over cooked rice, rice noodles or spaghetti topped with garnishes.

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Cooks Illustrated Asian Barbecue Pork (March/April 2007 issue)

1 4# boneless pork butt roast, excess fat trimmed and cut into slices about 3/4-1″ thick

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. soy sauce

6 T. hoisin sauce

1/4 c. dry sherry

1/4 t. ground white pepper

1 t. 5-spice powder

1 T. sesame oil

2 T. fresh ginger, grated

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1/4 c. ketchup

1/3 c. honey

With a fork, prick each pork slice 10-12 times per side and place in large plastic zip-lock bag. Combine sugar, soy sauce, hoisin, sherry, pepper, 5-spice, sesame oil ginger and garlic in bowl, stir to combine. Reserve 1/2 cup of marinade, then pour remaining over meat. Press as much air out as possible, seal and chill for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.

In a small saucepan, place reserve marinade, ketchup and honey and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat about 10 minutes to thicken and reduce. Turn off heat.

Line a roasting pan (with rack) with tin foil, place rack in pan and spray with cooking spray. Pre heat oven to 350 and adjust rack to center position. With tongs, remove pork from marinade, allowing excess to drip off, and place on rack. Pour 1/3 cup water into bottom of pan and cover tightly with tin foil. Cook for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and cook until pork has browned slightly around the edges, anywhere from 35-45 minutes. Turn broiler on, and broil pork until evenly caramelized, about 5-8 minutes depending on your oven. Be careful to not blacken the meat- you are looking for a nice even brown. (a drawer broiler will not work for this, the heat source is too close to the meat, says the mag. Increase heat to 500 degrees to caramelize) Turn meat over and caramelize other side. Then brush half the marinade on meat and allow to caramelize again for about 3-5 minutes, again, watching to prevent scorching. Turn meat with tongs, brush remaining glaze on other side and caramelize other side. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then slice thin.

So then, once that was done, and a container of cold rice was ready as well, I commenced with making the coveted Pork Fried Rice from the Food and Wine 100 list. You can find the results of that undertaking right HERE.

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Hoisin Beef Noodles

8-oz whole wheat or soba noodles (sub any other variety you wish- I used Ronzoni multi-grain spaghetti, my favorite); 8-oz flank steak, cut into thin strips; 1 medium red pepper, cored and sliced thin; 1/2 bag frozen sweet baby peas (or equivalent of edamame); 1 T. fresh ginger, minced; 3 T. fresh squeezed lime juice; 3 T. hoisin sauce; 1-2 t. chili garlic sauce; 1 t. cornstarch. Oil for stir-frying, cilantro for garnish if desired.

In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, hoisin, chili garlic sauce and cornstarch. Set aside.

Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta. Add noodles and cook until al dente. Drain. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil and add steak, cook over medium-high heat stirring often until just barely cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Remove to bowl with tongs. Put pepper slices in pan with juices and cook, stirring continually, for about 2-3 minutes. Add peas (or what you are using) and cook about 2 minutes. Add ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Add meat back with any accumulated juices to skillet, along with sauce mix. Stir to combine and cook until thick, about a minute or two. Pour over cooked noodles and stir to combine. Top with cilantro if desired.

This was a yummy and quick meal, the tang of the lime juice and the bite of the chili garlic sauce complemented each other well. I think I would add a little more hoisin next time I make it, and probably some other vegetables. It was very good but I thought it needed something more, and lord knows there is hardly a recipe that crosses my countertops that I am not looking at immediately and wondering how I can make it better, tastier, more flavorful or prettier. The meat was very tender and delicious, and would have been better with some seasoning or a quick marinade to bump up the flavor a tad.  But we enjoyed it, even Griffin who has a bad cold and can’t taste anything too well. A thumbs up for us, likely a repeat in our menu repertoire.

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