Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Perfecting a favorite recipe

I'm getting there! I've made various permutations on this dish for a couple of years now -- going from a couple of different recipes plus some experimentation, and I'm finally beginning to make it 'mine'.  I've made the soup (coconut milk, butternut squash or sweet potatoes and lots of herbs and spices), and it's been delicious. Always. I've also made a dal (Indian curried lentils) using similar ingredients but without the squash/sweet potatoes, and that's also been delicious. This time I combined the two, with some added ingredients, and it's now a complete meal: lots of veggies, plenty of protein from the red lentils, and plenty of other nutrition.

Unfortunately, I can't give exact details of much -- especially spices -- but I can give basics. I started with one smallish butternut squash (about 1.5 lbs) and one small to medium sweet potato, cubed and cooked in water to cover until really tender, about an hour. I sauteed one large yellow onion, finely chopped, about a 3" piece of fresh ginger, grated, and 5-6 smallish cloves of garlic, sliced.

Once this was cooking well, I added a can of coconut milk, the veggies and cooking water, a tablespoon, maybe, of Thai red curry paste (the tail end of a small jar, leftover), a good amount of fresh basil and mint from the garden, some curry powder and a half banana leftover from breakfast. By this point, the dish was swinging from Thai to Caribbean, I think! But I thought the banana would add some good sweetness, and I think it did. I let this cook awhile, then added 1 cup of dried red lentils, soaked for 30 minutes or so to soften.

Somewhere along the way, I added a bit of cayenne, some turmeric, more curry powder and cardamom and let it all cook.  I tasted as I went, eventually adding salt after the lentils were soft.  A final taste told me it had a slight bitterness -- maybe too much salt, maybe from the squash or onions, I don't know. So, I gathered up my courage and added a big spoonful of chunky peanut butter to the mix. Once that was dissolved in, I tasted again and it was luscious. After that there was nothing to do other than grab my handy immersion blender to puree the whole thing (I did leave some chunks in it, for texture).

In serving, above, I added far too many green onions, and they overwhelmed much of the flavors inherent in the soup, but the peanuts were a great addition. I had a second bowl (yes, I did!) and omitted the onions and it was much better.

Is this a final product? Probably not. I suspect I'll always tweak it a bit depending upon what's on hand and whether I want to combine the starchy veggies with the lentils. There's room for all versions in my life.

Now, I have a bunch of this leftover (the good news) and a very small refrigerator (the bad news). Hopefully, I'll find room for all of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment