Green Lentils are quite cheap in Szeged (Hungary) compared to Orange Lentils.
Green Lentils are good for salads and caseroles whereas Orange Lentils are good for soups and stews.
This should not stop you experimenting with lentils though.
Red kidney beans add a nice texture to the soup and are a healthy, fiber, option.
You can use other coloured beans in this recipe.
You do not have to use hot curry powder in this recipe. You can use a mild version instead.
The curry powder will give the stew a curry colour.
Coconut milk is highly nutritious, fibre rich and contains vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 as well as minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.
Coconut milk is good for the digestive system.
Below I will be showing you how to make a lentil stew whereby you can alter the ingredients and therefore the taste. With this dish you can use stewing meat or chicken for example, as well as change the vegetables. The dish uses coconut milk, curry powder, orange lentils and a variety of vegetables; so it is a very diverse dish in terms of its ingredients.
The main difference between a soup and a stew is that a soup is more of a watery dish that is normally served in a bowl, as opposed to on a plate like a stew. A stew is also much thicker in consistency and takes longer to cook; usually on a low heat. Things like kidney beans, coconut milk and certain vegetables also make it thicker.
With this dish the ingredients are very versatile, making it easy to adapt to other peoples' taste - You can use celery or instead of leek, 6-8 chicken drumsticks instead of stewing meat, chili powder instead of curry powder, sour cream instead of coconut milk, vegetable stock cubes instead of vegetable broth, leave out the kidney beans and use green lentils instead of orange. You can also freeze this dish for later, once it has completely cooled.
STEP #1 - Light up a gas hob, to a medium heat and then put an empty saucepan on it; 7-10 Litres in capacity.
What is a Medium Heat? - Medium Heat is when the gas flames circle the half-way point between a saucepan's dead centre (middle) and a saucepan's edge.
What is a High Heat? - High Heat is when the gas flames circle the edge of a saucepan without going over the saucepan's edge.
What is a Medium-High Heat? - Medium-High Heat is when the gas flames circle between Medium Heat and High Heat; which is usually about 1 CM away (small saucepan) or 1 Inch away (large saucepan) from a saucepan's edge, depending on the size of the saucepan.
STEP #2 - Put 1 level tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil into the saucepan and let it heat up. Do NOT let it burn or get too hot though. Around 30 seconds should be sufficient.
STEP #3 - Place 2 medium sized sliced/diced Onions into the now warm-hot saucepan. When you do this the onion pieces and olive oil should crackle and spit slightly, but not in an overheated kind of way. In other words, the crackling, spitting, sound should not be loud.
The 3 basic ingredients for many meals - Oil, Onions and Garlic.
STEP #4 - After 30 seconds or so, add 4 cloves of sliced/chopped garlic and a few sprinkles of rock salt and black corn pepper to the now frying onions. I normally use salt and pepper grinders and give them 4-5 turns each. As the onions are frying, occasionally stir the ingredients together until some of the onion pieces (not all) begin to turn slightly golden-brown on their edges.
Occasionally stir the ingredients until some onions turn slightly golden-brown
STEP #5 - Add 10 pieces of Chicken Drumstick to the saucepan and brown them off - Add 1 level tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and then give each piece of chicken drumstick around 5 minutes to turn golden-brown (brown off) before turning them over to brown off their other sides. You can also put the lid/cover on the saucepan in order to slightly cook (whiten) the chicken drumstick meat, but it is not necessary as the stewing process will thoroughly cook (and tenderise) the chicken drumstick meat.
Various stages of frying (browning off) the chicken drumsticks
Do NOT add too many pieces of chicken drumstick (i.e. 12-16 pieces), otherwise they will initially overload the capacity/ratio between chicken and stew (other stew ingredients). The same applies if you are using stewing meat instead of chicken drumsticks. 1Kg of stewing meat (chopped/diced) will be plenty for a saucepan sized between 7 and 10 Litres.
STEP #6 - Add 3 large carrots sliced/diced, 1 whole leek (including leaves) sliced into ½ cm slices, 500ml of orange lentils, 400ml (1 tin) of coconut milk, 1 tablespoon of curry powder, and the 500ml of vegetable broth. If you cannot find a tub of vegetable broth, you can substitute it with one or two stock cubes and 500ml of water.
Add the main ingredients (vegetables, herbs and spices) to the mix
STEP #7 - Add 1 litre of water to the saucepan, turn the gas flame to high and then wait for the water to start boiling. At this point, turn the gas flame down to a simmer and boil the remaining water for around 1 ½ hours (or 2 hours). At 1 ½ hours the consistency of the water and ingredients will be of a watery soup whereas at 2 hours (and longer) the consistency will thicken to a stew.
Lentil Stew - Its consistency is thicker than a soup, but not too thick like a dry porridge!
STEP #8 - When you are happy with the consistency, turn off the gas hob and allow the stew to cool down before serving. Depending on how long you leave the stew to cool down, it may become slightly thicker once cooled.