I don’t cook a lot of Indian food (no particular reason why; I just don’t find myself drawn to it), but when I do, it’s usually some variation of dal, a simple, usually vegan lentil stew that can be made using whatever vegetables or lentils one happens to have on hand. This red-lentil version was born to use up half a can of whole tomatoes I had languishing in the freezer, as well as some of the 4 lbs. of Granny Smiths we bought this weekend at Winco; the apples add a sweet tang that goes perfectly with the earthiness of the lentils. It’s quick, warming and healthy—perfect for a rainy weeknight. (Yes, I know the Pacific Northwest is probably the only place in the country right now where it’s still raining and 55 degrees, but just humor me.)
As below, it makes about 6 servings. (Leftovers are a perfect cheap lunch.)
• 2 T oil: 6 cents
• 1 onion, chopped: 10 cents
• 2 celery stalks, chopped: 6 cents
• 2 medium apples, chopped (I used Granny Smiths, but any variety would probably work fine): 70 cents
• 2 T ginger, minced: 10 cents
• 14 oz. canned (can be pureed whole) or fresh chopped tomatoes: 69 cents
• 2 cups red lentils: 50 cents
• 2 T curry powder: 7 cents
• 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth: 21 cents
• Salt and pepper: 2 cents
• 2 cups dry white rice: 30 cents
• 1 cup regular plain or plain Greek yogurt (optional, if you want it to be vegan): 50 cents
TOTAL: $3.31/6 = 55 cents/serving
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, ginger, celery, apples, and a large pinch of salt and cook until all are softened, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the curry powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the lentils, tomatoes, and broth and bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft and falling apart. Add water if necessary if the lentils become too dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook the rice however you normally cook rice (I use a ratio of 2x water to rice in a rice cooker).
Serve lentils over rice with a dollop of yogurt.