Kill a Cold Lentil Curry with Kale & Red Peppers
CT has a cold and I can feel a sore throat coming. In a bid to alleviate CT’s symptoms and stop myself from developing the cold, I’m turning to my all time favourite comfort food, dhal. In this instance it’s made with split red lentils, but pretty much any pulse will do. So for National Curry Week, I give you this Kill a Cold Lentil Curry with Kale & Red Peppers. Whether it will stop a cold in its tracks remains to be seen, but it’s a killer for flavour and full on satisfaction.
Lentil curry is such a versatile dish. I make it a lot and it’s different each time. Fry the onions and spices first, then add the lentils and cook. Cook the lentils first then add the fried onions at the end. Throw in your favourite spices. Use coconut milk or not. You can also include whichever vegetables you have to hand or just cook it plain.
One of the most memorable lentil dhals I ever had was back in my student days. I was an active member of the local Friends of the Earth group and some of us used to meet at a lovely Indian gentleman’s house. Back in the day, he had accompanied Satish Kumar on part of his 8,000 mile Peace Walk around India and then on to Moscow, Paris, London and Washington in a bid to rid the world of nuclear weapons. He always cooked us a lentil curry and chucked in what ever vegetables happened to be in season, including Brussels sprouts. It was always delicious.
My mother has been a big curry fan ever since her student days in Edinburgh. When I was young, it was always lentil curry with plenty of garlic she turned to at the slightest sign of a sniffle. I loved it then and love it now.
For this kill a cold lentil curry, I’ve included lots of garlic, ginger, chilli and turmeric, all of which strengthen the immune system. Nutrient rich kale and red peppers can only make things better. I served the dhal with brown basmati rice and some yoghurt. Everything was organic for additional nutrition and mineral content. Two of the ingredients we grew ourselves. Our gardening endeavours this year have been highly unsuccessful. Pretty much everything we planted has been eaten by wildlife of one sort or another. Our garlic crop, which we’ve kept going for over ten years now was thankfully untouched. Another stalwart is our tree kale, but any kale would be good.
As well as this being National Curry Week, it’s also National Rice Week and International Year of Pulses. So my lentil curry served with brown basmati rice hits all three. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also National Chocolate Week and you’ll find my post to celebrate this event coming very soon.
- 8oz red split lentils - soaked in water if possible
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 large cloves garlic - peeled and finely chopped
- 1 3cm sq lump of root ginger - peeled and finely chopped
- 1 red chilli - deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp curry powder (I used Steenburg's)
- ½-1 tsp sea salt according to taste
- a good grinding of black pepper
- 1 400g tin coconut milk
- 1 red pepper - desseeded and roughly chopped
- handful of kale - washed and roughly chopped.
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 large onion - peeled and finely sliced
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp nigella seeds (also known as kalonji) or black mustard seeds
- Rinse the lentils well. Place in a large pan with the bay leaf and just cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft and have collapsed.
- After ten minutes add the garlic, spices, salt, pepper and vegetables. You may need to add a little more water at this stage if the lentils are looking dry. Stir and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk and simmer for a further few minutes until everything is cooked to perfection.
- Meanwhile fry the onions gently in the coconut oil for 15 minutes or so until they have caramelised.
- Add the cumin and kalonji seeds after the first 5 minutes and stir from time to time.
- Just before serving, stir half of the onions into the dhal, then scatter the rest over the top.
- Soaking the lentils and rice for at least an hour prior to cooking reduces the cooking time. The longer they soak, the less cooking is required.
- Cooking lentils with a bay leaf is meant to make them more digestible.
- Serve with rice or flat breads and yoghurt if liked.
As I made enough for two nights running, I’m also sending my dhal to Corina at Searching for Spice for Cook Once Eat Twice.
Other recipes for vegan curries you might like
- Aubergine, mushroom & sweet potato massaman curry via Planet Veggie
- Cauliflower rice & jerk sweet potatoes in coconut via Tin & Thyme
- Easy baked bean curry via Thinly Spread
- Pumpkin Thai red curry via Recipes from a Pantry
- Thai green curry via Tin & Thyme