Adjusting to a new diet has proven to be quite the challenge, but one of the most enlightening things is being introduced to a whole new section of the grocery store. 2 months ago, I probably would have scoffed at you if you brought chickpeas, lentils or butter beans anywhere near me. Now I embrace these staples as part of my daily regime.
The shocked looks I get when I tell people about my meat-less habits haven’t ceased to amuse me. I’m sure that most people have visions of me sitting on the kitchen floor, crying whilst clutching my bowl of lettuce and carrots. Little do they know that I curl up on the love seat with a hot bowl of curry in my lap, warm naan to my left and cold yogurt to my right. The grass is indeed greener on this side.
What I love about lentils is their insane nutritional points and incredible versatility. These are easily slipped into any curry, wrap or salad. I look forward to exploring all the fun ways to exploit this sneaky little bean but for now, I’ll start with this curry.
Spicy Cashew Coconut Lentil Curry
For the red curry paste:
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp, grated ginger
2-6 chillies, I used 3
1 tbsp lemongrass, I used fresh from the garden but you can use pre-packaged
¼ cup fresh cilantro
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp each salt and black pepper
For the curry:
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ yellow onion, sliced thinly
½ red onion, sliced thinly
between 2 and 4 tbsp red curry paste, I used 3
1 14 oz can tinned tomatoes
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup dried brown lentils
2 cups water
½ cup chopped spinach, optional
salt and pepper to taste
rice + naan for serving as well as natural yogurt
cashews, parsley, lemon wedges for garnish
Make the red curry paste
In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the red curry paste and pulse until combined. Add a tablespoon or two of water if it’s not blending well. Keep sealed in a glass jar and refrigerate until use. Will keep for up to 2 months in the fridge but you can freeze individual portions in ice trays if you would rather keep them frozen.
Make the lentil curry:
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a deep saucepan and toast the cumin seeds for a minute before adding both the yellow and red onion. Fry the onions until translucent then add the red curry paste. Coat the onion in the paste and cook for another 2 minutes before adding the tinned tomatoes and coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil before adding the dried lentils and 2 cups of water. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
If after 30 minutes the curry is still very watery or is not at your desired consistency, increase heat to high and boil for 5-10 minutes or until it’s thick enough. Before serving, add the spinach to the curry and cook on low for 5 minutes, or until wilted. Serve hot with rice, naan and cashews, dollop natural yogurt on top if the curry is too spicy for you.