Green Lentil Stew With Fresh Basil

Green Lentil Stew With Fresh Basil


This turned out to be an accidental success while making use of a humongous bunch of basil I got from the farmers’ market this week.  I don’t claim to be an expert in preparing Indian food or lentil dishes, though I aspire to be.  I’ve made many attempts that did not come out tasting like anything worth writing about.  I never seemed to get the spice ratio right without using some kind of prepared spice mix, which I don’t really like to do.  However, the fresh basil makes this absolutely divine.  And basil is in season.  I could tell from the nearly 2-foot branch (roots & all) I brought home from the market.  I am adding fresh basil to every entree this week to make use of it while it lasts.


Lentils are great because they don’t require soaking before cooking, and you can make them pretty quickly on the stove top.  They are high in protein as well as fiber.  The basic cooking ratio is 1 part lentils, 2 parts water or stock.  If I make 1 cup of lentils it is usually enough for 4 servings so I divide it and freeze half for another quick meal.  First I cull the lentils and rinse them, then put them in a pot with the water or stock, bring it to a boil and simmer for about 25 minutes while I prepare the rest of the food, adding more water if necessary. 


At the end of the cooking time I add a teaspoon of mineral salt and taste test for doneness.  Lately I’ve been using mineral salt as opposed to white sea salt.  Mineral salt is a kind of pinkish-gray color and is called mineral salt because it is not refined and contains lots of trace minerals, which we need.  Sometimes it is called Celtic sea salt, or real salt.  Because it contains all the trace minerals, it helps our bodies to process and use the salt while preventing mineral deficiencies by replenishing those vital elements that are rapidly disappearing from our food and water supply.  It also helps keep our pH more alkaline, while refined salt causes more acidity.  Not only is mineral salt better for you than white salt, but it enhances the flavor of food.  You will notice a difference when you switch.


Green Lentil Stew With Fresh Basil


1 cup dry green lentils, rinsed

2 cups filtered water or stock

1 tsp mineral salt

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1 spring onion

3-4 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tsp whole black mustard seed

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp fenugreek

1 T curry powder (or 2 tsp turmeric + 1/2 tsp each cardamom & coriander)

Fresh cut vegetables (I used broccoli & zucchini)

1 large handful fresh basil leaves, whole

Chopped fresh cilantro

Cracked pepper


Prepare the lentils as directed above.  While they are cooking, place the mustard seeds, fennel, and fenugreek in a coffee grinder and pulse for a few seconds to coarsely grind.  Saute the onions, garlic, and all dried spices in olive oil for a few minutes.  Toss in the fresh vegetables and add a few tablespoons of water to lightly steam.  When the lentils have finished cooking, add them to the skillet and stir in the basil leaves and cilantro.  Season with fresh cracked pepper and a pinch of mineral salt and serve over rice.

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