Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pumpkin and Lentil Tajine

Ever since I had this blog, I have been trying various ideas to turn the Halloween pumpkin into something tasty. I already have some good recipes that I like, but I have recently found a few new ones and I have been anxious to try them. One intrigued me so much that I bought an extra pumpkin last week to try this dish before the pumpkin sitting on my porch will be available for cooking.

This recipe, as you can tell from the title of this post, comes from the Moroccan cuisine. And I must say that preparing pumpkin with oriental spices is my favorite way to turn this rather sweet and bland vegetable into a dish that is zesty, flavorous, and even spicy.

Moroccan cuisine, and particularly tajines, are my latest culinary fascination. They can make a wonderful and rich one-dish meal. Since my daily home cuisine is most often vegetarian, especially the vegetable tajines sounded very appealing to me. Moreover, unlike the meat tajines, they do not require very long cooking.

Tajine is traditionally made in a special, conic-shaped ceramic pot with a lid, which is designed for slow cooking. But if you do not have a tajine pot, this dish could be made in a regular non-stick heavy duty pot. It can be made entirely on the stove, or fried first and then finished in an oven at low temperature until soft.

Pumpkin and Lentil Tajine
(Serves four)

1 lb of pumpkin (already peeled off and cut into cubes),
1/2 cup green lentils,
4 cups vegetable broth,
1/2 cup olive oil,
1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced,
4 garlic cloves, chopped,
2 tsp paprika,
1 tsp turmeric,
1 tsp ground cumin,
1/4 tsp black pepper,
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper,
1/2 tsp salt,
2 tomatoes, cut into large cubes,
3 tbsp tomato paste,
1/4 cup raisins,
3 tbsp chopped flat leave parsley,
2 tbsp chopped cilantro.

1. Wash lentils and place them in a medium pot. Cover with broth and cook until lentil is tender but not soft. Set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large heavy duty pan. Add onion, garlic and spices. Fry for about 2 minutes, until everything is mixed well and fragrant.
3. Add pumpkin cubes to the pot, mix well with spices, and cook for about 5 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and lentils together with the broth. Mix all the ingredients gently.

5. Scatter raisins on the top of the vegetables and reduce the heat to low.

6. Cook for about 20 minutes until pumpkin and lentils become soft. If you use a tajine pot, or any other oven-friendly pot, you can transfer it at this point to an oven and finish it there.
7. Sprinkle with parsley and cilantro on top and serve.

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