Green-Lentil Curry with Kale
This recipe comes from celebrated chef Madhur Jaffrey’s new cookbook, “Curry Easy Vegetarian.”
PHOTO BY LEAH LIZARONDO
In my book, Indian food is one of the most vividly flavored cuisines. There is nothing timid about Indian spices — and I am not talking about heat; I’m talking about depth. Maybe it’s the fact that spices themselves have such powerful medicinal properties. Maybe as we bite into the dishes, it’s our body’s natural reaction to food that inherently is good for it. It seeks it. It welcomes it. And it savors it. Maybe I’m overthinking this, but when I eat something as healing and perfectly delicious as this bowl of lentil curry, I almost feel my body warming up — as if in gratitude. But I’m probably waxing too romantic about lentil curry. Probably.
This recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey, who is one of the biggest influencers on the way I cook. As someone who used to eat meat with every meal, I once struggled with making vegetable dishes that were satisfying. But Jaffrey’s cookbooks have saved me. If you picture vegetables and plant-based food as boring, bland bowls, you need to grab one of Jaffrey’s books and make something from it. Pronto.
Just look at this collage of photos from her new cookbook, “Curry Easy Vegetarian.”
It’s one of those cookbooks that you leaf through to mark the ones you’d like to try and end up with more pages marked than not. I could cook from this book all year. Definitely all fall and winter.
Here is one of the first recipes I’ve tried and loved: green-lentil curry with kale. If you think you know how this will taste, think again. The from-scratch curry paste will provide a new palate experience. And the spices! Turmeric, cayenne, cilantro, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander — how delicious can a medicine cabinet be?
Green Lentil Curry with Kale
From “Curry Easy Vegetarian”
· 9 ounces green lentils
· ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
· ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
· 4 ounces green beans cut into ¾-inch segments
· 3 ounces kale, thick stems and veins discarded, finely chopped
· 3 tablespoons finely chopped, fresh cilantro
· 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into ¼-inch rounds
· 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
Ingredients for the curry paste:
· 1 teaspoon peeled and finely grated ginger
· 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
· 1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
· 2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
· 3 tablespoons olive oil
· ¼ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
· 1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped shallot
· 2 tablespoons crushed tomatoes (original recipe called for tomato passata, which is harder to come by)
1. Put the lentils, turmeric and 2 pints of water into a medium pan and bring to a boil.
2. Cover partially and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add the cayenne, beans, kale, coriander, carrot and salt. Stir and bring to the boil again. Cover partially and cook for another 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make the curry paste: Combine the ginger, garlic, ground cumin and coriander in a small bowl. Mix in 2 fluid ounces of water.
4. Pour the oil into a medium frying pan and set over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the whole cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for 5 seconds and then add the shallot. Stir and fry until lightly browned. Add the spice paste and fry until you can see the oil along the edges, about 1 ½ minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and fry for about another minute, until you see the oil along the edges.
5. When the lentils have finished cooking, add the contents of the frying pan. Stir and cook gently for another 5 minutes.