Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry (and Review of Zyka)

 We live on a mountain seriously lacking in ethnic food. We can get good sushi and decent Greek and Thai. But our Mexican, Chinese, and Italian restaurants vary from incredibly mediocre to downright bad. And forget anything more exotic than that! As a result of this, I’ve been forced to learn to cook a number of things that I would prefer to have someone serve me. Dumplings and eggrolls come to mind. And when we travel, I am always on the look-out for good ethnic food.

In the past, I’ve used Chowhound to help me find restaurants. My experience with Chowhound recommendations has been very hit or miss. I’ve found great Thai in Wrightsville, decent Indian food in Winston-Salem and discovered that a whole heck of a lot of people have absolutely no idea what good barbecue is. Since Chowhound doesn’t do you much good when you are on the road, I have downloaded two Apps for my iPhone that are very handy: Urbanspoon and Zagat to Go. Using these, we were able to locate a really excellent (Zagat rating 26) Indian restaurant just off the interstate in Atlanta, Zyka. DH and I knew it was a good sign when the place was packed with Indians at 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon. It is not a fancy place: counter service, plastic utensils, and Styrofoam plates. But the food was excellent. The kids have not eaten a lot of Indian food, other than an occasional tandoori chicken or mild curry, so I ordered a couple of naan and one of each of the appetizers on the menu: Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Boti, Chicken Seekly Kabob, Beef Boti, their specialty Chicken 65, Vegetable Samosas and Aloo Tikki. In retrospect, I should have ordered a couple more breads and some raita because it was all HOT! Despite that, the kids chowed right along with DH and I. B did cool it off at the end with the most incredible pistachio ice cream any of us had ever eaten. Atlanta is a mid-way point for us traveling between the mountains and the Gulf Coast. We will be back.

Returning to our tradition of Meatless Mondays (and in my quest to increase my bean consumption as a way of lowering cholesterol), I decided to cook an Indian (or at least Indian-inspired) dish for dinner the next night, Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry. Here is my adaptation of this Cooking Light recipe.

Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry

  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups dried green lentils
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (1/4 in.)
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 quarts vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh mint leaves
  1. In a dutch oven over medium heat, stir onion and garlic in oil often until onion is limp, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Stir in the curry powder and cumin.
  3. Meanwhile, sort the lentils and discard debris, then rinse and drain the lentils. 
  4. Add lentils, sweet potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and broth to onion mixture. 
  5. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the lentils are tender to bite and sweet potatoes are tender when pierced, 30 minutes or so.
  6. Add more salt and pepper to taste. 
  7. Garnish with chopped mint.
Yield: 4 servings

I look at a lot of recipes online and read a lot of reader reviews. When I look at curry recipes, I often have to wonder what kind of curry powder the recipe-writer intended to be used. Here, as in a lot of recipes, I think most any kind of curry powder would work, as long as it is fresh (something not considered by a number of those reviewers, I suspect). My preference is for a curry powder that has a little sweet, a little heat, and the smokiness you get from cumin. I used Muchi Curry Powder from Whole Foods.
I served the dish with brown rice, a cucumber, carrot and mint raita, and mango chutney. Three of the four of us thought it was very good. DH and I have enjoyed the leftover curry and raita this week as a lunchtime filling for wraps.

Zyka on Urbanspoon


Guinnah said...

This looks delicious and I love the ice cream picture - great shot!

JGH said...

Yum- thanks for the recipe. The best Indian food around here comes served in a styrofoam clamshell!

I thought Chowhound was just in NY- have used it for years. Good to know about the other resources!