Lentil curries are a staple in our house. Simple to make, nourishing and packed full of warming spices, for me, they are the perfect comfort food. They are highly adaptable, so by playing with different combinations of vegetables and spices you can change the colours, textures and flavours to keep your lentil curries fresh and interesting.
I also love the fact that lentil curries are so cheap to make, costing just a couple of pounds to feed a family of four.
Since I make curries often, I’m always on the look out for new recipes to try. So when I was flicking through the February issue of Vegan Life magazine, the first recipe that caught my attention was the Lentil Curry on p87.
Doesn’t it look inviting?
And when I read the introduction to the recipe, I was delighted to discover that the recipe creator was my dear blogging friend Choclette from Tin and Thyme ❤️
I couldn’t wait to give it a try!
As is typical with me, I did tweak the original recipe slightly, mainly because I prefer to pan fry my garlic, ginger and spices before adding the liquid to curries (but that’s just my personal preference). I also massaged the kale before adding it to the pan. Not only does this help to soften the kale so it’s less chewy, but I find it significantly reduces the volume of the kale so you can fit lots more into the pan.
We’ve made this curry twice this past month and it’s been a huge hit with the family. We love to serve it with home-made chapattis (p119 of the Bit of the Good Stuff cookbook) which the boys make while I cook the curry. It’s also delicious served with rice. For a mini feast, you could even serve it with both and add some poppadum and mango chutney as a starter!
This creamy lentil curry is simple to make and uses easy to source ingredients. It is mild enough for children but feel free to crank up the heat by adding fresh chilli. The recipe is highly adaptable so experiment with different vegetable and spice combinations. Kale can be a little chewy for small children but you can easily switch it for some chopped spinach, broccoli or peas.
Hands on time: 30 minutes Ready in: 30 minutes
400g / 14 oz can coconut milk
3 garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped*
2.5 cm / 1 inch square lump of root ginger, finely grated*
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
½ – 1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala (or curry powder)
1 tsp ground cumin
230g / 1¼ cups red lentils, thoroughly washed
480ml / 2 cups boiling water
1 red bell or romano pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
2-3 handfuls of kale, roughly chopped (thick stalks removed)
1 TBSP + 1 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp nigella seeds (also known as kalonji seeds)
salt, to taste
1. Gently heat 3 TBSP of the coconut milk in a large, heavy bottomed pan. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli (if using) and dry spices. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add a splash of water if they start to stick to the pan.
2. Thoroughly wash the lentils in a fine mesh sieve under cold running water. Agitate them with your hand and continue washing until the water runs clear.
3. Add the lentils to the pan and stir through. Add the boiling water, coconut milk and red bell/romano pepper to the pan. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, wash the kale and place it in a large bowl. Add 1 tsp of oil and massage the kale until it starts to soften and reduce.
5. Once the lentils are soft, add the kale to the pan and stir through. Add a splash more water, if needed, to reach the desired consistency (some people like ‘soupy’ lentil curries/dhals; others prefer them thicker). Continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the kale is cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Season with salt, to taste.
6. While the curry is cooking, prepare the onions. Heat the oil in a frying pan (skillet) on medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the nigella seeds and cook for a further 5 minutes or so, until the onion is soft and starting to brown.
7. Spoon the curry into four bowls and top with the cooked onions.
This curry is delicious served with brown rice, chapattis or both. It will keep for five days in the fridge. It is also freezable.
To speed up the preparation, use frozen ready-chopped garlic and ginger.
Other lentil curry recipes on the blog: