Lentils are a great way to get high nutritional value at low cost. They also have the benefit of accommodating just about any flavour profile. One of my favourite ways to serve them is in a dish redolent with the spices associated with Indian cuisine.
I’m by no means an expert in Indian cooking, but I’ve worked at familiarizing myself with its spices and make dishes using my own combinations instead of packaged blends.
The recipe below may look daunting in its length, but about half of the list is taken up by the spices. If you don’t have them all, why not treat yourself to a visit to your local South Asian store to stock up? If you’re not familiar with the spices in this recipe, talking to the staff is a good way to find them (sometimes they’re known by more than one name). Store staff may give you tips on how to use them, too.
Just measure out all the spices in advance as part of your usual prep (along with chopping the vegetables, opening the can of coconut milk, and measuring out the other ingredients) and you’ll be all set to go!
I made this recipe three times over about six months to get it to the point where it’s ready to share with you. It’s flavourful and satisfying, and is not only vegetarian but vegan too, so it’s a good choice to master for when you find yourself feeding folks with those dietary requirements.
I hope you enjoy both the process of putting the dish together and eating it!
Lentil Cauliflower Curry
© Marlene Cornelis/Urban Cottage Life 2017
Sprouted lentils cook more quickly than their regular counterparts. If you don’t have sprouted lentils, you can use the regular kind but will need to cook them longer before adding the cauliflower. Or, you could pre-cook them to an al dente texture, and then add them in the same manner as the sprouted lentils. I find this dish is a complete meal, but you may wish to serve it with rice.
- 1-1/2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
- 1 large red chili pepper, minced
- 1 tsp kalonji (also known as nigella seeds)
- 1 tbsp mustard seeds (black or yellow)
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large plum tomatoes, diced and with their juices (about 2 cups)
- 1 400 ml can coconut milk (light or regular)
- 2 cups water
- 1-1/2 cups sprouted lentils
- 1/2 medium head cauliflower (about 3/4 lb), cut into small florets
- 6 – 8 oz baby spinach
In a large, high-sided skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and chili pepper and saute until the onion is translucent. Turn the heat to medium and add all the spices at once, stirring for 2 – 3 minutes to allow their flavours to develop. The mustard seeds may start to pop.
Stir in the tomatoes, then add the coconut milk, water and lentils, mixing until well distributed. Cover the skillet and bring the mixture to a boil, and then turn the heat to low for 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is cooked through but not soft. Taste and adjust the seasoning if required.
Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach just until wilted. Serve.