Do you ever feel like you need to do nothing for a while before you can muster up the strength to do anything? Sometimes I need to take relaxing to a whole new level—let the dishes pile up in the kitchen, forget about that recipe concept, and just laze around on my bed with the windows open. A pile of books on one side and Cookie on the other.
That’s what I did this weekend; I chose to stay in rather than go out and read cookbooks instead of cook. My only notable accomplishments included ruffling through all 600 beautiful pages of Nigel Slater’s Tender (Nigel, dear fellow, why so much cream?!), getting my money’s worth out of my Netflix account and baking up some of my famous dark chocolate-dipped macaroons to ship to a friend. It was just what I needed.
On Sunday, I was busy doing a whole lot of nothing and feeling totally unmotivated to cook this week’s Food Matters Project recipe. I blame the title: curried tomato soup with hard boiled eggs. I find hard-boiled eggs to be truly noxious and I wasn’t feeling soup. After reading through Mark Bittman’s write-up and recipe list, I wondered why he called it soup when it sounded more like a stew. Intrigued, I googled “makhani,” the Indian dish it’s based upon, and recognized it as one of the many vegetarian options I’ve enjoyed at Indian buffets (I generally despise buffets but Indian buffets are a major exception).
Through my research, I learned that makhani is often served with black lentils (dal makhani), so I decided to add lentils for substance and give the recipe name a makeover: Tomato and Lentil Curry. While it’s certainly an improvement, I’m not sure any name could represent this bold and spicy, hearty dish in its full glory. Please give this dish a try and get back to me with your naming suggestions.
Other than adding black lentils (also called urad dal or beluga lentils) and some extra coconut milk, I stuck to the recipe, which you can find in its original form at Eats Well With Others. I just added one cup of rinsed black lentils to the pot once the liquids came to a boil, and extra coconut milk at the end. I served the curry over a bed of brown jasmine rice with a big slice of lime to squeeze on top. It’s definitely my most successful attempt at Indian cooking so far and I dare say it’s almost as good as the authentic dal makhani served at my beloved Indian buffets.
Ingredients of note include an amazing kashmiri curry blend provided by Native Roots Market. Locals, if you haven’t, you really must check out their spice bar! They have custom spice blends for sale and will hand mix any blend your heart desires.
I also used Pomi brand tomatoes because Pomi is the only brand I’ve found that uses BPA-free packaging.
Tomato and Lentil CurryCourse: StewCuisine: Indian
This is a hearty, bold, veggie-packed curry stew with lentils. It’s vegan and good for you, too! Recipe yields 4 to 6 servings.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow or white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of sugar
2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Salt and black pepper
1 cup black beluga lentils or regular green/brown lentils, picked over for debris and rinsed
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup light coconut milk, plus more for garnish
1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 small cauliflower, cored and roughly chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Cooked brown jasmine or long-grain rice, for serving (optional)
Lime wedges, for serving
- Warm the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeño. Cook until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the curry powder, cumin, and sugar. Cook and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the potatoes and carrot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring for a minute or two. Add the lentils, broth, coconut milk and tomatoes with their liquid. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat so the mixture bubbles gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and carrots are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower and adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently. Cook until all of the vegetables are tender, about 15 more minutes. Serve in bowls with an extra drizzle of coconut milk, chopped cilantro, and a wedge of lime.