de Lentejas (Bolivian spicy lentil stew)
from Vargas, La Paz, Bolivia
Serves 4. Cooking time: 35 minutes. While this recipe is Bolivian,
ají is also typical of Peru/Bolivia/Ecuador and northern
Chile, as is the salad that accompanies it, the Sarsa.
For the stew:
- 1 teaspoon of dried smoked hot peppers, ground (you may use
chipotles for a very spicy meal, or Chile Ancho for a milder ají.
If you have access to Andean Chilis, choose the yellow variety
for spicy and the red variety for mild)
- 1 large onion, chopped finely
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 bunch of flat (italian) parsley, finely chopped
- 1 cup of dried lentils
- olive oil,
- salt, pepper
- One medium tomato, julienned
- 1/2 onion cut in fine, long pieces
- a handful of flat parsley, finely chopped
- The juice of 1 lime and salt to taste
Sarsa: Mix ingredients, and set aside--the longer this sits, the
more the lime juice infuses everything with its flavor.
To cook the lentils: place in saucepan, cover with water, add salt,
1/2 garlic clove and oil. Bring to a boil and then bring the heat
down to medium and cook for 20 minutes or until the lentils are
tender. Drain and remove the garlic. Set aside
While the lentils are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.
Fry the garlic and the parsley at medium heat until the garlic is
golden. Add the chopped onion until the onions become shiny (this
means they're cooked but not yet golden). Add the ground hot pepper
and a splash of water. Let the Aji cook for 1 minute. Keep stirring.
Add the chopped tomatoes, 1/4 cup of water, salt and pepper. Cover
and cook for 25 mintues at low-medium heat. Add lentils and mix
with sauce. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Serve with white rice and top with 1-2 spoons of sarsa
There are many many variations you can do with this basic stew-replace
the lentils with garbanzo beans, seitan, fava beans. You may also
make the stew spicier and counter that with the sweetness of cooked
ripe plantains instead of beans. This is called "Ají
de plátano". Be creative. Any legume that absorbs flavor
well and is not overwhelming with its own flavor would work (black
beans, because they are so flavorful, don't work very well).