Since the beginning of my plant-based journey, lentils have been my go-to pulse. I love that they’re nubbly and gritty texture. They add a lovely bite to vegan dishes. I had a friend’s boyfriend joke that if you were going to a vegans’ house for dinner, you were pretty much guaranteed lentils. Admittedly, I’ve eaten more lentils now than I’ve ever eaten in my life. Jokes on him though.. Caus lentils are awesome!
I love Indian food, I went through an obsessive period where it was all I wanted to eat and I was doing my damnedest to recreate it at home. Within Indian cooking there are so many different regional styles, it’s impossible to paint them all with the same brush. One things for sure though, they are all nuanced and they are all delicious.
One thing I’ve learned from Indian cooking is to create a base of flavour by frying your spices. Frying the spices in oil releases their flavour and really makes a dish more aromatic. This is a great way to get depth of flavour in a short space of time, so it tastes like your curry has been cooking for hours.
This lentil curry is a wonderful rainy-day lunch, when you need something to warm you up. I serve it with couscous because I do not have to patience for rice. I love cooking, more than is probably normal, but one thing I absolutely cannot cook is rice. It’s quite sad really, no matter how much I try I end up making mush. As a result, couscous has become my new starchy best friend. Couscous does have a very distinct taste and texture, so if you prefer rice and have rice-making-skills go ahead and do that. I love couscous because it’s quick and it doesn’t involve getting the pots out.
200g diced white onion
400g can of lentils
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
100g diced green pepper
100g diced tomato
1 ½ cups tomato puree
½ cup water
2 tablespoons mild curry powder
1 ½ tablespoons cardamom
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons frying oil (I use canola)
Fresh coriander – I use a handful, go nuts
Begin by draining and rinsing the canned lentils. In a medium pot heat the oil on a medium-to-low heat. Add the curry powder, cardamom and coriander powder to the oil and fry for 2-3 minutes. It’s important to watch the spices as they can burn quickly, I’ve found that when they just start to darken in colour and their fragrance is released it’s time to take them off the heat.Once your spices are a deep golden brown and fragrant, add the diced onions to the oil and fry until the onions just begin to soften. Add the garlic, green pepper and lentils to the pot. Stir to coat all the vegetables in the spices and fry for a further 3 minutes. Add the tomato puree and the water to the vegetables and turn up the heat. Stir to combine then simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop it from sticking. Once the curry has reached a thick glossy consistency, stir in the brown sugar until dissolved. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Remove from the heat and finish off by stirring in the fresh coriander leaves. If serving with couscous, prepare a half-cup of couscous as per the packet’s instructions. To jazz up the couscous I added torn coriander leaves, finely diced red and green peppers. Another great option is to serve this curry with shop-bought naan bread.