I’ve been making this dish for years now. When people try it they tell me how fantastic and complex it is. But in truth, other then a lot of spices, its quite a simple dish! It’s inexpensive and filling, and delicious enough to eat all the time. You can easily scale it up to feed a crowd.
I have pretty much every ingredient I need for this right in the pantry, which is simply great. Anything I do not have is an easy substitute (you can use many different veggies, for example zucchini or sweet potato diced are both yummy substitutions). These freezes quite well.
Great served with salad, with rice or as a side dish with a meat curry or (my favorite) with kabob done in a simple mediterranean style marinade. I’ve taken leftovers and used them as a cold dip with crackers…. my little one LOVES dips and will eat them all up, reusing the same seed cracker many times.
- 2 C Red Lentils, well rinsed. You really MUST use the red, substitutions aren’t very good. (I sometimes precook lentils and then just use 4-5 cups cooked lentils, by doing this you can skip step 1)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped (about 1 small onion)
- 2 small golden beets, diced (about 3/4 cup) You could use red, but they’ll change the color of the dish and will need half the honey.
- 1/2 stalk celery, diced (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 large carrot, diced (1/2 cup)
- 1 can Fire-Roasted Tomatoes (small 14 oz size)
- 1/2 c Coconut Milk, regular not low-fat.
- tomato paste
- juice of 1/2 lemon (2 tbsp)
- 2-4 tsp curry powder (I use 2 tsp for a mild dish)
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1.5 tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground yellow mustard
- 1 1/2 tsp sweetener (honey, sugar etc)
- 1 4” stalk lemongrass (optional)
- 1 tsp (2 leaves) kaffir Lime Leaves, chopped (optional)
- black pepper
- 1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne (if desired, I don’t use it typically)
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 tsp Ginger, minced. I prefer doubling this so the ginger is really pronounced. I love the quiet, creeping heat and aroma of ginger. I often use the microplane for part, and do thin slices for the other half.
1. In a medium to large pot cook the lentils covered just a 1/2 inch with water on high, stir every few minutes to prevent browning/burning of bottom lentils. They are finished cooked after 10-15 minutes, when they turn a lighter color and soak up the water. Transfer to a bowl.
2. In now empty pot get onions, beets, carrots and celery cooking with the oil untill nicely caramelized over medium heat (5-7m).
3. Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, coconut milk, lemon juice and cooked lentils. Stir well. If needed to moisten use 1/4 cup water (this depends on how dry lentils are). Add in the dry spices, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and honey. Stir well, taste for salt adding it if needed. Allow to cook 5 minutes.
4. Grind in plenty of black pepper, and cayenne if desired. Stir in ginger and garlic. Taste for spice, add anything you feel is lacking. The reason to add the heat components later is to ensure that beneath the (mild) heat the dish is full of flavor.
5. Allow to cook for 5-15 minutes on low untill the texture is thick and stew like, stirring often. Remove lemongrass stalk before serving. Eat hot or room temp or cold, its great any way!