Curried Red Lentils with Shrimp, Potato, and Peas

This recipe is so easy and delicious you'll wonder why you don't make it more often. It's a classic dal recipe that can be used with shrimp--as with this recipe--chicken, lamb, beef, or vegetarian. It's good to make a large batch of the spiced lentils because they freeze well and you'll have them in a hurry when you're busy and can use them as a base for other Near East recipes.. The recipe below is a basic one, and the one that I made tonight. Add more spice if you like (I added chipotle chili powder...I like it spicy). And if you are adding meat or seafood to the recipe add it appropriately...hearty meats--such as lamb or beef--should be added in the beginning and allow it to stew with the lentils, but more delicate foods--such as fish or shrimp--should be added about 5 or 10 minutes before serving; this is also when to add the peas.

Curried Red Lentils and Potatoes
Yield: 4-6 servings
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or clarified butter
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1-2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into 1" cubes
1-1/2 cups red lentils
3 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 cup diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Heat the oil or butter in a small heavy sauce pot over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Sauté the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, or until translucent but not browned. Lower the heat, add the curry powder, and sauté the spices with the onions for an additional 5 minutes, stirring often and taking great care not to burn the spices. Add the potatoes and lentils; stir them to coat them with the fat and spices.

Add the chicken or vegetable broth along with the tomatoes, salt and lemon juice. Bring the liquid to a boil, lower it to a very low simmer and skim any impurities that may have risen to the surface. Slowly cook the lentils and potatoes for approximately 45 minutes, or until they are fully cooked and the lentils have begun to lose their shape and thicken the broth considerably. If it becomes too thick, simply add a desired amount of additional broth. Serve over steamed basmati rice.