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Laura’s Review: Slow-cookin’ (Moroccan Lentil Stew)

October 20, 2010

Well, yesterday before I went to work I spent half an hour chopping up vegetables and throwing them in the crock pot to make the Moroccan Lentil Stew, including my one and only actually edible home garden product, Mr. Junior Butternut Squash. I figured he was about a pound since the big butternut squash I bought at the store was 2.5 lbs. (Where are the scales at Wal-Mart? I only got it weighed at the checkout. 😦 Boo.)  Anyway, set it all up in the crock pot according to the recipe, left for work, and came home about 7 hours later to a house that, as Joey put it, smelled like India.

I let it sit for a bit longer, finally adding the lemon juice, extra curry powder, and green beans sometime after the 8 hour mark. Still, while the lentils and potatoes were soft enough to stick a fork in and certainly soft enough to bite, they were not as soft as I’d like. I don’t know which would solve the problem better, putting more water in to make sure everything is covered, or just to cook it for longer. But man, it really does suck to come home expecting something to be done cooking in a slow-cooker and it not being just right. It’s not like a slow cooker is going to solve your extra-firmness problems quickly, now is it?

Anyway, since it was soft enough to reasonably eat (really, everything was al dente instead of just soft soft), we went ahead and ate it. I was not impressed with the taste. It wasn’t special at all. It just tasted like curry powder. I mean, I like curry powder, but it really is kind of blah all by itself. Two stars out of five. Meh. What a disappointing use of Mr. Junior Butternut Squash.

So I ate it, but considering I had a truckload of this stuff left and couldn’t imagine choking it down in the next coming days, I decided that something had to be done. There are plenty of curries that are tasty, so I went on a mission to find some supplemental flavors to add to the concoction I already had. I found this (partial) ingredient list in the recipe for Curried Chickpeas With Cilantro:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (may substitute coconut oil, or any vegetable oil)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

I decided to experiment with this for lunch. I did not add any more onion or curry powder, but I did add another crushed garlic clove (too lazy to mince). I added only half the tumeric, and I didn’t have cilantro, so I just threw a few sprigs of leftover parsley on there at the end. I used my new best friend in the oil world, coconut oil. I sauteed the garlic and spices in the coconut oil for a bit over medium heat, then dumped one of the containers of leftovers into the skillet and warmed it through. The result? Something I would actually eat! Everything melds so well with the coconut oil. It was much tastier than before. Taste-wise, I’d give it 4 stars, but there was still the firmness problem. I just haven’t the heart to spend the time to cook the heck out of it, especially since the green beans which once looked so happy and bright just turn duller and duller in color. They look sad.

Anyway, food disaster averted. 🙂  Now to whip up a bit more of that spice mixture to save the remaining containers of leftovers in the fridge…

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