I’m feeling a bit spicy today!

20 Oct

I’ve had these two cans of coconut milk in my pantry for about a year, just waiting for me to be inspired to use them. I also have a truckload of lentils in my pantry. Today, I decided to try my hand at curried lentils.

I think I’ve made a curry-based dish maybe once in my life, so this was truly a new experience. Most of the recipes I’ve seen have so many ingredients! I wanted something simple and quick to put together (hey, my life is crazy!). I made the first batch using some little greenish-black lentils that my mom gave me. The end result had fantastic flavor and was fairly spicy, BUT — when the dark-colored lentils cooked with the coconut milk, the finished dish was an unappetizing grayish-green color. Now, I’ve used these same lentils in soups and not had a problem with the color. I guess it’s because my soups are generally full of colorful vegetables so you don’t notice the color of the lentils.

I decided to make a second batch of curried lentils using some light-colored lentils I also had in my pantry. They are bigger and took a little longer to cook, but the finished dish was equally as delicious and the color was a nice golden brown. Served over Israeli couscous with a side of flatbread, it was the perfect lunch. Well, maybe not perfect. Canned coconut milk is high in fat, so I wouldn’t make this an everyday lunch, but it was a nice change from the usual.

Speaking of coconut milk, this recipe uses the canned coconut milk usually found in the Asian foods aisle. It’s not the same thing as the coconut milk I drink. Though coconut milk has taken its share of criticism for its fat content, I should point out that it’s actually considered a “good fat.” Coconut milk contains medium chain fatty acids, which are not readily stored in your body, but used as energy. Still, everything in moderation, as they say…

Oh, by the way, I have no idea if this is close to authentic or traditional curried lentils, so forgive me if it’s not. I just put it together based on what I had read and what I thought would go well together. I really like the spiciness of the dish, so it will go into my permanent recipe binder.

Curried Lentils over Couscous
serves 4

4 cups cooked Israeli couscous, regular couscous or brown rice
(per package instructions)
1 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup sliced carrots
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup dried lentils, sorted and rinsed
1-1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
1-1/4 cups canned coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
minced fresh cilantro for garnish

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onions and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in curry powder, ginger and cayenne and cook for a minute or two. Stir in lentils, broth (or water) and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, but not mushy, and some liquid remains (about 30 minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, divide couscous or rice between four plates. Top with curried lentils mixture and some of the liquid, dividing evenly. Garnish with minced cilantro. Enjoy!

Update: While doing some grocery shopping this evening, I came across two different brands of “lite” coconut milk. Might be the way to go if you’re watching your fat intake. Thanks for the tip, Jane!

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5 Responses to “I’m feeling a bit spicy today!”

  1. Patti October 20, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    Hi Tamie — this looks marvelous. Can you do something with pumpkin? I love pumpkin this time of year, but I don’t care for pie crust too much — or cheesecake. Got any other ideas?

    • tamiespears October 20, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

      Are you thinking pumpkin in a dessert? Or maybe a side dish or something? I have a lot of recipes for more savory dishes with butternut squash. Canned pumpkin would probably substitute fine.

      • Patti October 21, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

        I just like pumpkin…I had baked pumpkin slices with a molasses type syrup on them recently…it was great. I don’t know much about squash, except I saw a Blue Hubbard Squash pie recently and it looked like pumpkin pie…just like pumpking (let’s meet for a latte again soon : ) Did you get my message about Norm?

  2. Jane October 20, 2010 at 9:58 pm #

    I love lentils and coconut milk. I use a lot of coconut milk (we love Thai food) – I buy the lite stuff though.

    • tamiespears October 21, 2010 at 2:13 am #

      Thanks for the tip! I just updated my post with that info.

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