Anyone who wants to transition to a vegetarian/vegan diet, or at least try a vegetarian meal once or twice a week, should definitely invest the time to learn about Indian cooking (or Thai or Lebanese, for that matter). It is always hearty and delicious, and quite vegetarian friendly. The only truly challenging part of cooking traditional Indian food is marinating meat (which has to begin the day before). If you don’t eat flesh, that step is eliminated, opening up this perfect cuisine to the general public. As a bonus (in addition to whole grains, beans, and vegetables being incredibly good for you), many of the spices associated with Indian cooking (especially turmeric) are known to be anti-inflammatories that can reduce risk of heart disease and several types of cancer.
I was able to throw this together fairly quickly, and–unlike many of my recipes–I didn’t have to play around with it. I got it right on the first try! Yay me. INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup (120 mL) brown lentils (will yield about 1 1/2 cups once cooked)
2 tbsp mustard oil (canola is fine if you don’t have that)
3 tbsp of your favorite curry powder (I mix my own at home using 2 tbsp each roasted cumin and coriander seeds, 1 tbsp turmeric, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp fenugreek, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp cayenne)
1 medium onion, sliced (if you don’t want strings of onion, I suppose you can chop it)
4 cloves garlic, minced 2 inches of freshly grated ginger (You can also use about a tbsp each of garlic and gingner paste, but it won’t be as good.)
400 grams (2 cups) cooked chickpeas
480 mL (2 cups) vegetable stock
120 mL (1/2 cup) coconut milk
Salt to taste.
*Parboil the lentils in 240 mL water (1 cup). In a medium skillet or saucepan, bring water and lentils to boil, reduce heat to low, then cover and simmer for about 12 minutes. You can do this while prepping the veggies or starting the curry on another burner.
*Heat oil in medium-sized pot over medium high heat. Add the spices and stir until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes).
*Add the onion and cook until translucent (about 5-7 minutes).
*Add the garlic and ginger and cook an additional 1-2 minutes, mixing everything together. It should start to smell really good about here.
*Add the parboiled lentils and the chickpeas, and mix really well.
*Add the vegetable stock and wait for it to start bubbling.
*Reduce heat to low and cover partially (leaving a small gap for steam to escape). Cook for about 25-30 minutes.
*Remove cover, stir in the coconut milk, and simmer an additional 10-15 minutes until the desired consistency is reached.
*This is the part where you can adjust salt. If you do so before this, the curry will condense and make it too salty. Then Christmas will be ruined.
*You can leave this like it is and it will be delicious, but if you want it to look more restaurant-style, you may want to mash about half of it with a spoon or possibly blitz it up a bit with an immersion blender. This will thicken the consistency considerably, though overdoing it will make it look unappetizing. So be careful.
*Serve over brown rice or by itself with some roti! Serves 4.