Garam Masala Lentils

I've always been curious about garam masala. It certainly sounds interesting and tasty.

It's similar to a curry. A blend of spices. But it's less complex than a curry blend. It's usually used as a starting point and additional spices are added.

I got some as a gift and decided to try it with lentils and barley in a curry.

If you like curry and haven't yet tried adding garam masala, you should. It's easy to get online. It adds a whole new level of depth.

I love lentils in a curry because they need a lot of flavor and they bring texture as well as thickening properties. You don't want a loose or watery curry.

I made a huge batch. This yielded 2.5 quarts of food. So you may want to halve the measurements.

1 red bell pepper, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
2 jalapenos, minced
2 serranos, minced
5 cloves garlic, smashed and diced
2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup fresh kale
1/2 cup dry lentils
1/2 cup dry pearl barley
1 can coconut milk
3 heaping spoonfuls of my hari…

Vegan Umami Broth with Beans and Veg

When you want depth of flavor in your vegetable based soup or broth there are two key ingredients.

Mushrooms and nutritional yeast.

All the other components are important too, but without mushrooms, yeast or both, it's tough to get that really satisfying oomph from just veg.

These things have what chefs and foodies call umami. They have this wondrous ability to make your taste buds stand at attention so that they notice the symphony of flavors you've put into your food.

Ingredients
1 pint white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 long hot pepper, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 serrano pepper, minced
3 puya chiles
2 japonese chiles
3 cloves garlic, smashed, sliced

1 can garbanzos, plus 2 tbls can broth
1 can red beans, rinsed

6 cups water
3 tbls olive oil
1/3 cup nutritional yeast

3 tsps salt
2 tsps black pepper
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp coriander seed
5 pieces allspice
5 pieces clove
handful fresh basil

In a large stock pot saute the mushrooms and onions with 1 tsp of the salt in 1 tbl of the olive oil until nicely darkened. Add the garlic and get that some color too. Don't skip these steps. They do matter. Caramelized mushrooms, onions and garlic will add way more depth.

Add remaining ingredients, except the basil and beans. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add beans. Continue to simmer uncovered for 10 more minutes. Add basil. Simmer 2 more minutes.

I recommend putting your dried chills and seed spices into a mesh container or cheesecloth that you submerge in the pot. That way you can extract the flavor and still easily remove them later. It's not that tasty to bite down on a piece of allspice or partially hydrated dried chili.

You can serve it hot from the stove top. For even more intense flavor, allow it to rest overnight in the fridge. As my favorite TV chef (Alton Brown) would say, your patience will be rewarded.