Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I love the Smell of Curries: Curried Red Lentils

I've decided that having a theme for the week helps me get going and actually post on my blog, even when life is a little crazy, so this week we are taking a trip to India and Asia.
There is little I love more than walking into a place that smells of curry. Don't get me wrong, I love other foods but by far Indian food would come out on top. There is something so warm and reassuring about the spices used in Indian curries that makes me crave it when it starts to get cold. The fragrant spices speak to me of warm exotic places.
I've been craving Indian food for weeks now, but our sweet little "Shop and Go" closed down sometime when I wasn't looking and has left me in a lurch to find all my favorite Indian food staples like Paneer, and Naan.
I searched for a quick Indian curry that used things easily found at the local grocery store, and with a little tweaking I have a super yummy, quick lentil curry that even my one year old devours! You should be able to find all the ingredients at the grocery store nearest you if you don't already have them in your cupboard.

Curried Red Lentils

2 cups red lentils
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons curry paste
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ginger root, minced
1 (14.25 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup frozen green peas
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Wash the lentils in cold water until the water runs clear (this is very important or the lentils will get "scummy" and believe me you don't want that!), put the lentils in a pot with enough water to cover and simmer covered until lentils tender (about 10 minutes) adding more water if necessary.
2. While the lentils are cooking: In a large skillet or saucepan, caramelize the onions in vegetable oil.
3. While the onions are cooking, combine the curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, coriander, salt, garlic, and ginger in a mixing bowl. Mix well.
4. When the onions are cooked, add the curry mixture to the onions and cook over a high heat stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Stir in the diced tomatoes and peas and reduce heat, allow the curry base to simmer until the lentils are ready.
6. When the lentils are tender drain them briefly (they should have absorbed most of the water but you don't want the curry to be too sloppy). Mix the curry base into the lentils, garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

This makes a ton, about eight main dish servings, and goes together very quickly. It's a great way to wow a crowd, and an excellent as leftovers! Serve with Naan and rice for a great meal!