Indian-Spiced Lentil Pasta

No pictures, no confident measurements, and no reliable recipe source today; no, today I'm going to share with you the first full-scale meal - as in, made for more than just myself - that I pulled together not based on a planned, tried-and-true recipe, but from whatever I could scrounge up and make quickly. I was at my boyfriend's house - let's call him L, to make things a teensy bit more personal; he does have a name, after all - and we were hungry. We were on our own for dinner, and it was one of those nights where I had absolutely no idea what I felt like eating. To top it all off, being in an unfamiliar kitchen and pulling out food that isn't even yours - well, I was hesitant.

But did I mention that I was hungry? So I pulled open cabinets and drawers and rooted through the fridge to find the following ingredients:

Spaghetti Noodles
1 Can of Lentils
Garam Masala
Red Curry Powder
Onion Powder
Orange Peel (dried)
Chili Powder
Olive Oil
1 plum tomato
2 Lime Slices

The amount that we used could have likely fed twice as many people (re: four), so I would say cook as much pasta as you need to feed as many people as you have for dinner, knowing that the rest of the ingredients is enough for about 3-4 people, and adjust if necessary.

As for measurements, I didn't use any measuring utensils. The major spices I used were garam masala (maybe 1 or 1 1/2 tsp), curry powder (1 tsp), marjoram (1 1/2 tsp), and chili powder (1/2 tsp). The rest were mere sprinklings, or what I intended to be mere sprinklings. Don't take those estimates too seriously, though. Honestly, I put some together, tasted it, and changed it if I needed to. I hope that doesn't deter anyone from trying this, because if you just start with a smaller amount and adjust to your preferences, you can't possibly go wrong. Unless you like things explosion-worthy spicy and all of your poor guests have sensitive palates, that is.

So, here's what I did with those ingredients:
1. Rinse and drain the canned beans (I'm sure that cooked dried beans would work equally well).
2. Mash the beans in a small-to-medium sized bowl.
3. Start adding the spices!
4. Juice the lime slices (you could use a chunk of lime, but the slices were what I found in the fridge) and leave the rind to the side for now.
5. Coarsely chop the tomato and add it to the mixture.
5. Add the olive oil to make a smoother, chunky-saucier consistency (maybe 1/4 cup - I would say no more than that should be necessary).
6. While the pasta water is working up a boil and the pasta is cooking, heat the lentil mixture over medium heat, dropping the lime rinds in to (hopefully) release more flavor while cooking - just remember to remove them before serving!
7. Drain the pasta when it finished cooking, top with the lentil mixture, mix it up, and serve!

This probably took me 15-20 minutes from start to finish, and if you've read any of my other posts, you know by now how much of a feat this is. It makes me want to ignore recipes more often! The result was a moderately hot (but fully palatable), slightly complex (due to the subtle sweetness from the cinnamon and orange peel) spaghetti pasta with plant-based proteins from the lentils and healthy, unsaturated fat from the oil. The flavors absolutely reminded me of an Indian dish, though I'm sure the actual spices I used were not 100% traditional. The only change I would make would be to add some chopped peppers next time - any kind, depending on the degree of heat I'm interested in adding. It just needed a little bit more oomph to it, although L said that he liked it just the way it was (or is he just supposed to say things like that?).

Having such a successful experience without a recipe boosted my confidence to all kinds of heights, and I think brought me one step closer to feeling comfortable in the kitchen. I encourage all of you to try this out if you don't already, because it probably went smoother and more quickly for me than any actual recipe I've ever tried to make, and was no less delicious than any pasta dish I've had put in front of me - Indian or otherwise.

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS


Post a Comment