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Friday, August 19, 2005

Chinese BBQ Pork + East Indian Lentil Soup

This tasty, hearty soup/stew is great for a cool fall day or in the winter. It combines Oriental ingredients with a traditional East Indian lentil soup (aka Dal). Note there are many types of lentils. Some have a sharper taste than others. Some also take much longer to cook than others. My recommendation is "Moong Dal" lentils. They are small and oval in shape and are the same lentils used to grow bean sprouts.

For the BBQ pork, if you cannot find an Oriental market nearby, you can use pretty much any pre-cooked BBQ meat sliced into thin medallions, then julienned. You can also oven roast a piece of pork loin, then slice and julienne it. However, loin meats are usually expensive.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup moong or other lentils. Lentils can be found in the International section of most grocers. Or try to find an East Indian or Pakistani store. If you cannot find any lentils, you can substitute yellow split peas. (These cook quicker than lentils.) Do not mix lentils because of their different cooking times.
  • 1/4 cup diced onion [optional]
  • 6-10 medallions of BBQ pork (about 1/2 cup), julienned.
  • 10-12 button mushrooms, halved unless they are small.
  • 1 small potato, skin on and scrubbed/cleaned, small diced.
  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil, vegetable or canola. Avoid sunflower or safflower oil as they have a low smoke point and thus burn very fast. If you want, you can mix sunflower, safflower, peanut, or olive oil with canola/vegetable oil, to reduce the smoke point (i.e., burn temperature).
  • 1 tbsp curry powder. Buy it or make your own (see Make Your Own Curry Powder).
  • 2-3 tbsp of haldi (turmeric powder)
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp Vietnamese beef paste (used for pho/noodle soup). If you cannot find this at an Oriental market, you could substitute it with 2 tbsp tomato paste and 1 tbsp soya sauce. This is not at all the same taste, but it is an acceptable substitute.
  • 4-6 cups of water.
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  • 3-4 stalks green onions, trimmed and cut into 1/2-1" pieces.

Preparation
  • Rinse the lentils at least 3 times in a large, shallow bowl to get rid of any impurities. This is very important, else you will very likely have a gritty result. Once washed, soak the lentils in clean water for at least 15 minutes. Prepare other ingredients in the meantime.
  • Warning: Do not do this step until you have prepared all the ingredients and have them ready to go. Curry powder burns very quickly. Heat 2-3 tbsp of cooking oil in a large stock pot. Add the curry and turmeric powders and the bay leaves. Stir with a large spoon, preferably wooden, for 1 minute, then remove the bay leaves and reduce heat to medium.
  • Add the Vietnamese beef paste (or acceptable substitute) and the diced potatoes. Stir for 2 minutes maximum.
  • If you are using onion, add them now. Drain the soaked lentils and them to the cookpot. Stir for 1 minute.
  • Add mushrooms, pork (or sub), and at least 4 cups of water. Lentils absorb a lot of water. If you do not like thick lentil soup, add 4 cups first, then add more later. [Note: Do not add salt yet.]
  • Reduce heat to med high and stir regularly every 3-5 minutes, keeping the pot at a rolling boil for 20-25 minutes. If you are leaving the pot unattended, cover it, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 40-45 minutes. Make sure that you still stir the contents once in a while to prevent burning. Lentils are very high protein and stink your place up if burnt.
  • [If you are serving this dish with toast or grilled flatbread points, you can skip this step.] If you are serving over rice, add 2 cups of water to the cookpot, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for another 20 minutes. Stir frequently. If the soup is getting thicker than you want, add another 1 cup of water and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. At this point, do not leave the soup unattended.
  • Taste the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir in. Turn off heat, add green onions, stir again, and serve immediately.

Presentation
Serve either over rice or with toast or grilled flatbread points for dipping.

Comments
  • I prefer to cook the lentils on low heat for a long time so that they dissolve almost completely. Keep in mind that split peas, if you use them instead of lentils, cook faster, so adjust the timing instructions accordingly.
  • You may like to add other vegetables to the soup, such as diced carrot or even okra/ ladyfingers/ gumbo.

(c) Copyright 2005, Raj Kumar Dash, http://curryelviscooks.blogspot.com


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  • I'm blogslinger
  • From Canada
  • Writer, author, former magazine editor and publisher, amateur photog, amateur composer, online writer/ blogger, online publisher, freelancer


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