Then I decided to take things into my own hands. I thought it over and had a brilliant idea. I would substitute lentils for beans and radishes for potatoes. And give it a new name - Mediterranean Lentil Stew with Italian dumplings. The parmesan cheese in the dumplings made them Italian :-D Well let me get to it then.
FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN LENTIL STEW
1 medium red onion, chopped finely
3 cloves of garlic, minced
8-10 red radishes
8-10 baby carrots
1 medium green bell pepper
1/3 to 1/2 cup lentils (masoor dal)
1 stick celery (or 1/4 tsp celery seeds)
2 medium tomatoes
1 tsp dried italian seasonings(marjoram, rosemary etc.)
2 tbsp AP flour (mixed thoroughly with 1/3 cup water)
Salt and Pepper to taste.
2tbsp Oil or butter
Cut all veggies into bite size pieces. Heat a saucepan and put the oil/butter in it. Add the onions and lower the heat to medium-low. Let the onions sweat a bit, then add the garlic. Once the garlic starts giving out a fragrant aroma, add all the root vegetables(you may put whatever else you have in hand). Let them saute for 4-5 mins. Then add the dry seasonings and lentils, and give it a stir. Let that saute for another 4-5 mins. In the meantime, bring to boil about 2 cups of water in a seperate saucepan. Now add the bell pepper,and pepper to the stew. Stir and saute for 2 mins and add the hot water to it. Cover and simmer for about 1 hr (on medium heat) while stirring ocassionally. Once the lentils have softened then add the tomatoes and salt to taste. Cover and cook again till everything (esp. the lentils) start getting a little mushy. Now add the flour water mixture, stir and cook till the raw flour smell is gone (about 7 mins.). Taste and adjust seasonings according to your pallete. For added taste and color I put some saffron strands in there (but what with saffron being so costly, I put just a li'l. So little that I might as well have omitted it entirely- i couldn't taste it there:-D)
FOR THE DUMPLINGS
serves 6-8 (depending on how many you eat!)
1 cup bisquick pancake mix
1/4 cup chopped, steamed spinach (optional)
1/8 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
Mix all the ingredients together. You'll get a sticky dough. For traditional dumplings, this batter would be dropped by teaspoonfuls into the stew during the last 10-15 mins and cook in there. I think that it mostly is an acquired taste. I did that and I felt like I was eating mush. I almost gagged.
Fortunately, I did not trust the dumpling to begin with so I made my own version. I feel that for the Indian palette at least, this will taste way better. I heated a frying pan with about 1 tbsp of oil and dropped teaspoonfuls of the above batter in it. Lower the heat to medium low, cover and cook for 3-4 mins. Then flip the pan fry dumplings and let cook for another 3 mins or till you feel its done. The dumplings made this way were a sure hit with both VC and Princess ( and me too :-P)
On the whole I did get my comfort food (after I scraped away the tradumpling from my stew) and all of us were happy in the tummy.