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Frugal cooks can use lentils, too

Most people know beans are a frugal cook’s best friend. They are inexpensive, nutritious and filling. But many people may not realize – perhaps because so few Americans eat them regularly – that lentils share those qualities.

This recipe for curried lentils with chicken, which costs under $1 per serving, is a simplified version of an Indian dal. It can be made with leftover cooked chicken, turkey or even tofu, and can be on the table in less than 45 minutes.

The dominant seasoning, curry powder, is a blend of many spices, and adds complex flavor without the cook needing to reach for multiple ingredients. A can of diced tomatoes with jalapenos also does double duty by adding both acidity and heat.

To complete the meal, serve this spicy curry over a bed of steaming basmati rice.

Curried Lentils with Chicken

1 cup brown lentils

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

2 teaspoons curry powder

14-ounce can diced tomatoes with jalapenos

4 cups cooked diced chicken or turkey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt

In a medium saucepan over high, combine the lentils and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the lentils are just tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the curry powder to onions and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the reserved lentils, tomatoes, chicken (or turkey) and salt. Cook, stirring often, until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in the yogurt.

Yield: 4 servings


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