Even in summertime I crave comfort dishes. I’m talking warm, heavily spiced bowls of things that might make you sweat a little when you eat them. I dunno. I’m aware that no one likes to sweat whilst eating, but I’ll take it over eating chilled soup. Gazpacho? I just…can’t. I’m sorry. (Not sorry.)
You know I’m game for a massive minimal-cooking-required salad, but homegirl needs a cooked meal several times a week, regardless of the weather. It’s something about sitting down at night to eat something that has a story. Something that’s been chopped and sautéed and simmered.
I love experimenting with cuisines that I find a little intimidating, it’s like facing your fears in a totally contained and inconsequential way!
Since I’ve been cooking, I’ve found Thai and Indian cuisines to be among my favorites to make at home. Mostly because they involve big vats of stew-like concoctions that can be custom-made to involve heaps of vegetables, tons of flavor and spice, and require being mopped up with rice and/or flatbread. (In general, I enjoy mopping my food up with carbs. It’s satisfying and delicious.)
Plus, a good curry paste can’t really let you down.
One thing that can make a vegetable-based Indian dish extra exciting is to first cook the onions for way longer than required – like 5-10 minutes more than a standard recipe might recommend. We’re trying to take them into caramelized territory. It’ll create an amazing sweetness and depth that mightn’t have been there otherwise. And it makes a humble dish like this red lentil dahl feel dang luxurious.
I learned this life changing (jeah! life changing.) tip from a great blog called My Darling Lemon Thyme. The author, Emma, lives in Perth, Australia and knows a thing or two about cooking amazing vegetarian AND gluten-free dishes of all cuisines. I highly recommend it!
Red Lentil Dahl with Kale
adapted from My Darling Lemon Thyme
- 375 gram (13 ounces) packet of dried red lentils
- 1 liter (4 cups) water
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 6 dried curry leaves
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 1 can of tomatoes, drained of their juices and chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups kale, shredded
- steamed rice, to serve
- fresh cilantro/coriander, to serve
Rinse the red lentils well, drain and tip into a medium saucepan. Cover with the water and add turmeric, coriander, garam masala and curry leaves. Stir well and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the lentils have reduced to mush. Add a little more water if they are drying out.
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring for 10 minutes until deeply colored and fragrant (for real, cook them for the whole time!!). Add garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add cumin seeds, chili flakes and stir for 1 minute before adding the chopped tomatoes. Season the mixture well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes.
Add the red lentils into the onion and tomato mixture and add the kale, stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for a further 10-15 minutes.
If the dahl is too thick, add a little extra water and if too thin simply cook for a little longer to reduce. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Serve hot with steamed rice and cilantro.