Recipe of the Week - Curried Chickpea, Lentil and Swiss Chard Stew

My husband and I disagreed quite strenuously about this recipe. I have always said that cooking for him was a joy because he would eat anything except lima beans, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to add lentils to the list. I always knew that lentils weren't his favourite thing, but I love them, and I'm the cook. But this week he had two mouthfuls of this soup and put his foot down. I, on the other hand thought the stew was delicious, so I'm going to share it with you in spite of my disgruntled (and hungry) spouse.

I can tell you the stew gets better the next day because I've been eating it all week. It's also really healthy and clocks in at 293 calories. If you can't find any swiss chard, feel free to substitute spinach.Curried Chickpea, Lentil and Swiss Chard Stew

1 1/2 cups dried brown lentils, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Bouquet garni: parsley stems, celery leaves and sprigs of time, encased in a tea infuser, or tied in cheesecloth
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
sea salt
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons curry powder (recipe follows)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large bunch swiss chard, leaves only, coarsely chopped
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 cup plain yogurt for garnish

1. Place lentils in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water. Set aside.
2. In a stock pot, combine the oil, bouquet garni, onion and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Cook, covered over low heat until soft but not browned, for about 3 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Add the lentils, curry powder and cayenne and stir. Simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
3. Add the chard leaves and the chickpeas and cook until the leaves are wilted, about 5 minutes more. Remove the bouquet garni. Taste for seasoning.
4. While the stew is cooking, toast the cumin. Place the cumin seeds in a small, dry skillet over moderate heat. Shake the pan regularly until the seeds are fragrant and evenly toasted, about 2 minutes taking care that they don't burn.
5. When serving garnish with a spoonful of yogurt and a sprinking of toasted cumin.

Serves 8

Curry Powder

2 small whole dried red chili peppers
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1. In a small dry skillet, combine peppers, coriander, cumin, mustard and peppercorns over medium heat and toast - shaking the pan often to prevent burning - for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and let cool to room temperature. Add the whole fenugreek seeds. In a spice grinder of a coffee mill, find to a fine powder. Transfer to a small container. Stir in the ground ginger and turmeric. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 3 months.

These recipes are both from Vegetable Harvest by Patricia Wells