Lentil Coconut Curry
Once again I found myself recipe-browsing over the weekend, searching for a unique, healthy, plant-based dish that I hadn’t previously tried. This lentil coconut curry caught my eye for a few reasons.
First of all, I love lentils. They are a true, plant-based super food. Not only do they cook quickly, but only one cup is loaded with protein (18 grams), fiber (16 grams), folic acid (90% RDI), and iron (37% RDI). They also happen to be a good source of potassium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B6.
Second, I love Indian-inspired curry dishes, but especially creamy coconut curries. What made this recipe even more interesting is that it was made without using a traditional curry powder. These all have unique flavors, and you really don’t know what you’re getting until you try them. Most Indian curry powders have hints of cardamom and cinnamon, both of which have a subtle sweetness that sometimes overpowers a dish. This recipe used whole coriander and cumin seeds for flavor, and as a bonus, they added a bit of a crunchy texture as well. While we often think of these spices as only flavor enhancers, they are powerful antioxidants along with the ginger and garlic.
Finally, one of my favorite things about this recipe is that is was easy to make and really only required a cutting board and one large pot! I prepared this at the same time I was cooking two other meals and it still turned out great!
Find the original recipe here.
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil (this was in the original recipe, however I omitted it and substituted 1 tablespoon of avocado oil. Usually I like to omit oil altogether, however cooking the seeds in a little bit of oil really enhances the flavor
- 1 tablespoon each cumin and coriander seeds
- 1 head of garlic (yes, the entire head, 10-12 cloves), peeled and minced (can use a garlic press if desired)
- 1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes (I like POM organic tomatoes in a box)
- 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
- 2-3 teaspoons ground turmeric (I recommend starting with 2)
- 2 teaspoons sea salt (more to taste)
- 1 cup dried, brown lentils
- 1-2 teaspoons cayenne (optional). I used a spice Indian chili powder instead which can be found at an Indian grocery store
- 1 15-ounce can coconut milk
- A few handfuls of organic cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- Heat the coconut (or avocado) oil in a large pot over medium-high heat
- Add the cumin and coriander seeds and toast until they start to brown, about 45 seconds
- Add the garlic to the pot and let it brown, about 2 minutes
- Add the can of crushed tomatoes, ginger, turmeric, and sea salt to the pot and cook, stirring the pot a few times, for 5 minutes
- Add the lentils and, if using, the cayenne (or Indian chili powder), and 3 cups of water to the pot and bring it to a boil
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 35-40 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Stir the pot a few times to prevent the lentils from sticking to the bottom. If the curry starts to look dry, add an extra 1/2 – 1 cup of water
- Once the lentils are soft, add the coconut milk and cherry tomatoes and bring the pot back to a simmer. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cilantro
Nutritional extras: Stir in a few handfuls of spinach and allow to wilt, serve over cauliflower rice for an extra serving of cruciferous vegetables. Can also be served over quinoa, brown or black rice.