I don’t know how the weather is where you live, but here in New Haven, it’s getting cold. Not that I’m complaining! Last night I got in perfect cold-weather form and whipped up a pot of curried coconut lentils.
I went vegan eight years ago, shortly after moving into a vegan/vegetarian cooperative house. Though I was confident on the baking front, I had always been a little nervous about cooking for a crowd. We took turns cooking dinner in pairs for the house each night, so I had to learn quickly. There were definitely some botched entrees along the way, but in general I caught on pretty fast, and ended up with a handful of go-to recipes. We had shelves of cookbooks, including the heavily used How It All Vegan series. But over the years I lived there, I grew to value our thick copy of Vegan Planet. I’m not sure why this book isn’t more widely loved. I certainly haven’t made a fraction of its 400 recipes, but it boasts several of my favorites, including this curried lentil dish that I made several times when we were low on fresh produce.
This was one of the first dishes I ever cooked that made me feel like I actually enjoyed cooking. It’s incredibly simple, and doesn’t require anything you aren’t likely to have on hand. The spices are present, but they aren’t overpowering, so it’s a sure crowd-pleaser, especially if you have picky eaters around. It’s also super easy to triple or quadruple, which is what I always did in my co-op. Eat as is or served over rice.
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1″ fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp dry mustard
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- 3 c water
- 1¼ c brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 2 medium-sized carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into thin half-moons
- ¾ c green peas
- ¾ c coconut milk
- ½ c unsweetened shredded coconut
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- In a food processor, puree the onion, garlic, and ginger.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat.
- Add the onion puree, cover, and cook about five minutes to mellow the flavor, stirring a few times.
- Add the spices and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
- Add the water and lentils, cover, and and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer 10 minutes, then add carrots. Cook, covered, another 20-30 minutes, until lentils and carrots are tender.
- Add the peas, coconut milk, coconut, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Simmer another 10 minutes to incorporate flavors. Scoop yourself a big, warm bowl of these lentils and get cozy.