meatless tuesday . #7 {red lentil curry}

Valentine’s Day 2011 plans: dinner at Canlis.  Now I know that the restaurant would have provided a vegetarian prix fixe menu if requested, but there was no way was that happening.  Canlis salad, salmon with sunchoke [Goldfarb’s kryptonite lately] puree, beef tenderloin!  Are you kidding me?  So this week, we moved Meatless Monday to Tuesday. I doubt the MM police would care.  Isn’t the more important objective to set aside one day a week to eat meatless? 

So by now you can probably guess I am obsessed with Ross Dobson’s recipes.  This week’s meatless dish is adapted from his Market Vegetarian cookbook cover recipe.  It is the cover that captured my attention.  We love bold flavors so I tweaked the recipe just a tad to add a little more oomph.  This is not a curry that most of us would think of as traditional.  There is not a lot of sauce, although you could add more stock or water if you wanted.  But there is enough to serve it over basmati rice.  I love the bitterness of the eggplant but what makes this recipe is the gently cooked cherry tomatoes.  Once you cut into them, their juice and seeds incorporate into the stew giving it the perfect sweetness to complete the dish.  Yummy and so pretty.

Eggplant, Tomato & Red Lentil Curry 

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large eggplant cut into large cubes
1 red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced
12 cherry tomatoes
1 ½ tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp chili powder
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 c vegetable stock {or water}
2/3 c red lentils
handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 small serrano chili, thinly sliced

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  When the oil starts to smoke, add the eggplant.  Cook for 5 minutes turning the pieces to brown on all sides.  Remove from skillet just when the eggplant starts to release its moisture.  Set aside.

Add the last 1 tablespoon of oil, onion, garlic and ginger to the skillet; cook for 5 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for 1 minute or until they just start to soften.  Remove from the skillet and set aside with the eggplant.  Add the curry and cumin to the pan; cook until they get fragrant – about 1 minute.  Add chili powder, tomato paste, stock and lentil.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until lentils are al dente. Salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the eggplant mixture and tomatoes; cook for 2 minutes to heat.   Add the cilantro, stir and serve over basmati rice.

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