I love Indian food, the smell of the spices and the simplicity. Curried lentils I eat probably once a week. It’s very simple to make and there’s no fuss to it. It’s also extremely tasty and smells incredible. What you’ll need:
First off, I’ll get my butter nice and hot in a sautee pan, add your curry paste and lightly toast. I always prefer curry paste over powder. I think curry powder tends to be a little flat myself. Add your sliced onions, leeks and celery and sweat until translucent.
At this point I’ll go ahead and add my diced chicken and sliced mushrooms. Make sure you sautee these a minute before asking everything. The mushrooms cook much better that way. When your mushrooms are cooked add your lentils. Then add water or stock. I think water works just fine. Season and simmer until lentils are soft making sure to keep stirring and adding water as it runs out.
When your lentils are soft add your chopped cilantro and parsley and serve over rice.
The most important aspect of food is the flavor. It’s important that the dish being served has a balance of appropriate flavors. There are five flavors; salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami. Umami is the fat coating taste you get after eating something fatty like duck or a steak. A well balanced dish has a lot more depth than one that utilizes two flavors.
A good example of how to balance flavors to add depth is an orange and fennel salad. The vinegarette is sweet and sour and the orange and the fennel are mildly sweet. Take the orange segments and replace them with grapefruit. Now you’re utilizing bitter as well. It will have a similar flavor, but have a more well rounded one. The grapefruit has the same citrus aspect, but the bitter it gives the dish really makes a difference.
Use the flavors the dish is supposed to have. I wouldn’t put something bitter in a sweet and sour soup. It’s not meant to be bitter, so it would disrupt customer expectation. The more flavors utilized the more difficult it is to balance well. It takes time of practice to grasp fully what makes sense together.
Smell in large part has to do with taste. This is why adding aromatics are critical to a good dish. Usually parsley is the go to aromatic. For me I will not add parsley to something that doesn’t have parsley in it to begin with. Mint can be an aromatic to a dessert. It’s refreshing and light, so it goes well together. Spices can be an aromatic too. Take a curry for example. If you like curry when you smell it you crave it.
It takes years to get good at balancing flavors well. Practice is the only good way to get better at it.
Curry is one of my favorite things to make. Thousands of different flavor combinations can be achieved with curries. Blends of spices in powders or pastes make for explosive flavors. Almost any protein can be made into a good curry. Chicken is my favorite as long as you use the dark meat. It cooks better in wet cooking methods and is packed with more flavor.
Almost any curry you try will be a fusion of a few different cultures. The Caribbean has a different style than Britain and different than India. American curries generally are a combination of Caribbean and Indian curry. The spices of India and the herbs and coconut milk of the Caribbean. I would suggest getting curry powder or paste already made. Making a good curry powder or paste takes a long time to perfect. Below I’ll post a good recipe I usually use when cooking a curry. I suggest serving with basmati rice or jasmine. I suggest serving rice and curry in different dishes. The cooks in India used to put curry on the rice for beggars at the back door so it’s traditional to serve separate.
4 chicken thighs bone in
1 onion julienned
1 red bell pepper med dice
1 green bell pepper medium dice
2 small stocks lemon grass
32 oz coconut milk
Salt/Pepper as needed
Curry powder/paste as needed
Season and brown the chicken on both sides. Remove and set aside. Sweat the onion, lemon grass and bell peppers until tender. Add the chicken back in the pan. Combine curry paste/powder to coconut milk and incorporate. Add coconut milk to pan and let summer on low heat. Season as needed. Serve with rice.