Tikka masala spiced chicken, South Indian spinach and lentil soup, basmati rice, & cilantro chutney

I was super excited about making this amazing lentil soup posted by a fellow blogger. Thanks again to Big Apple Bites for posting this awesome soup! And while I had to make some adjustments to his recipe, it came out absolutely delicious. Not a single drop was left after dinner! Inspired by the Indian theme, I decided to serve this with basmati rice, a cilantro chutney, and tikka masala spiced chicken.

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I grew up in NYC where you could run to the corner bodega at 1 AM and likely find much of these ingredients, but here in the ‘burbs I would have needed to drive a bit out of my way to maybe find what I needed. Instead I made due with my neighborhood market. And that brings up a good point: don’t be intimidated or put off by exotic ingredients. If you can’t find something, improvise.

Here’s the original recipe. These are my recipe adjustments:

-Couldn’t find orange or yellow lentils so I used red and green, respectively.
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-Store only had green chilis, not red. Also, while the recipe called for 2 whole chilis, I used half of one and then half a green bell pepper. While my husband and I both love very spicy foods, and my daughter can actually hold her own quite well for her age, I didn’t want this to be too spicy as she wouldn’t be able to eat it. She’s got a pretty incredible palate for a four year old, but she is just four!

-When I tried to blend up the green lentils with the peppers, I wasn’t getting the porridgey texture pictured in the recipe. Maybe because the yellow lentils that I couldn’t find are more delicate? I don’t know. But I added some olive oil and water when blending until the consistency looked right. I figured this was meant to be a bit of a thickener for the soup so adjusted it with that in mind.

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-I used only about 3/4 cup of shredded coconut as I didn’t want it to be too coconut-y.
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-I couldn’t find black mustards seed or whole cumin seed so I used yellow mustard seed and ground cumin. Still toasted in oil (olive, I never use vegetable oil) and it worked fine. And smelled incredible!

-To my taste, I needed a bit more seasoning – added some garlic powder, onion powder and doubled the cumin. Also salt and pepper. Next time, I’ll start off by sautéing onion and garlic for a nice base.

But soup was a success! It was sooooo good! I served it with basmati rice and made a cilantro chutney to go with it as my family & I are all sauce fanatics. Since I cut the chili pepper down, but my husband and I do like spice, I diced it up and served as a garnish for the soup.

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And lastly for added protein, I broiled up some tikka masala spiced chicken thighs with the cilantro chutney for dipping.

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