March 13, 2018

Red Lentil Stew

Some tragedies in life are inescapable. Illness. War. Being forced to listen to some idiot droning on about their political opinions at a party that you didn't even want to come to in the first place. This comes to mind because I've been mildly sick for a while now. And sure, I'm glad that I'm not deathly ill. But there's something awful about being just a little bit sick. Sick enough that you feel like crap and don't want to go do anything, but not sick enough that you feel justified in canceling plans or calling in sick. So you slog through your life, make something hot and delicious to make yourself feel better, and keep on praying for the sweet release of, I don't know, a snow day or maybe a land war in one of the less populous states like Montana. But those lazy Canadians never deliver, and you're left to force a smile and pretend like you don't hate everyone around you. So pretty much like normal.


1.25 cups Red Lentils
1/4 cup of Water
1 standard-issue Onion
5 Tomatoes
1 Jalapeño Pepper
5 cloves Garlic
1/2 of a Lemon
1 TBSP Grated Ginger
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper 
5 Cardamom Pods
1 Cinnamon Stick

The first thing you're gonna need to do is wash your lentils. Like, a lot. More than you'd think you should have to. See, lentils are essentially just an uppity kind of split pea, and much like their split pea cousins, lentils have a love affair with dirt. They cling to dirt like their little lives depend on it, and it takes some effort to get them (the lentils) to just move on with their lives already. Once you've got that taken care of, choppity chop your onion up and then toss it in a pan along with your cinnamon, cardamom, your oil and a gentleman's pinch of salt over medium heat. Let that cook for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to color a bit. Now it's time to add in your ginger and your jalapeño which you've hypothetically diced by now and, depending on how spicy you like things, either removed the seeds and membranes from the inside of or not. Add in another pinch of salt, and let it cook for another 2 minutes or so, when the jalapeño begins to soften and the entire kitchen starts to smell kind of incredible. Mince your garlic and add it in to the party along with your cumin, paprika, turmeric, and cayenne. This is the point in the recipe where everything starts to smell so good that your neighbors come try and hunt down the source of the deliciousness to guilt you in to giving them some. If any of them make it to your home, just sneeze and cough on them until they go away, or until you begrudgingly develop enough respect for their sneeze resistance to agree and feed them. 

The turmeric in this thing stained the crap out of my hands.
I had turmeric stigmata for days.
 Dice up your tomatoes into little bits in anticipation of their joining the gang. But before you toss them in, now is a fairly good time to fish out your cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. You could leave them in there and they'd impart a little extra flavor to the dish, but they've really given up a fair amount of flavor already, and once everything is goopy and stew-like it'll be a lot harder to fish them out. Which essentially just means you run the risk of crunching down on some uncomfortable bites while you contemplate how this stew, the one thing that's supposed to make you feel better, has betrayed you. But really it was you who betrayed yourself. Anyhow, follow your heart. Regardless of what you choose, it's time to toss in your tomatoes along with your lentils, water, and a final pinch of salt. Bring your fledgling stew up to a boil before covering it and reducing the heat down to low. Let it cook down for about 25 minutes. Once the tomatoes lose their structural integrity and the lentils are cooked to your liking, you're pretty much good to go. Now it's time to eat, enjoy, feel better, wake up feeling like hot garbage spread on a cracker, and hope that you have some leftovers in the fridge. See you next week, assuming I haven't gone to Montana to start this thing on my own.

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