Post Food editor Joe Yonan wrote about a case of mistaken lentil identityin his most recent Weeknight Vegetarian column, where red lentils were originally called for but clearly were not the answer.
Well, they are what you want for this dish — a marvel of casserole-level, cold-weather comfort food in under an hour. You are building layers of flavor, first with onion and fresh ginger and then lentils brought to a delightful texture as they absorb coconut milk and broth. Chicken thighs are treated to their own coating of spiced yogurt, and they are nestled into the bed of lentils in the final bake.
The whole thing comes together in a 9-by-13-inch oven pan, and if you have a dark metal one, that will help the contents cook a bit faster. Of course all the ingredients are in your Dinner in Minutes Pantry, which you can print out a shopping list for through this link.
- 1 large onion
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger root
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
- One 14.5- or 15-ounce can low-fat coconut milk (see NOTE)
- 1 1/2 cups no-salt-added or homemade chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- About 2 pounds skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt (full-fat or low-fat)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 tomatoes from one 14.5-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (6 ounces total)
- Lemon, for serving
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven; preheat to 425 degrees. Cut the onion into 1/2-inch dice. Peel the ginger, then mince it. Toss together the onion, ginger and oil in a 9-by-13-inch metal roasting pan, until coated. Roast for 8 minutes, then remove from the oven.
Meanwhile, rinse the lentils under cool running water and drain. Stir the coconut milk, broth and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the chili powder into the onion mixture in the roasting pan, then stir in the lentils. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 10 minutes.
While the lentils are in the oven, pat dry the chicken (first discard the skin as needed), then season the meat generously with salt and pepper. Stir together the yogurt, cumin and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder in a bowl, then coat the chicken thighs with that mixture. Cut the canned tomatoes into chunks.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven; uncover and stir in the tomatoes. Season the pan mixture lightly with salt and pepper. Nestle the coated chicken thighs into the pan mixture, skinned sides up. Return the pan to the oven (uncovered); roast for 20 minutes, so the chicken is cooked through and lightly browned in spots.
Cut the lemon into wedges. Serve warm, with the lemon.
NOTE: Transfer the contents of canned coconut milk to a larger container or canister designed for an immersion (stick) blender, making sure to scrape all the solidified coconut cream/fat from the can. Puree until emulsified. Or you can use a whisk.