Monday, 25 March 2013

Red Lentil & Cauliflower Curry

So I was in full multi-task mode while trying to prepare this recipe, and didn't have time to test it before running out the door. Instead I packed up a serving and brought it with me for dinner.  Fast forward a few hours, and I was getting pretty excited to dig into some delicious curry. I sat down at the dining room table and cracked open the container about a inch - literally a inch - and my husband immediately exclaimed, "What is that SMELL?"

It was then I remembered the Cardinal Rule - there are certain foods should should only be eaten:

1. the comfort of your own home
2. a restaurant

In other words, it is extremely inadvisable to dig into a big bowl of curry in a neutral (non-curry) environment.

Curry combines so many strong flavors; it smells fantastic when simmering on your stove or in an Indian or Thai restaurant, but it's basically the equivalent of a food nuclear bomb when eaten anywhere else.

Lesson learned. Needless to say, my curry dinner went uneaten.

But! Luckily curry actually tastes better the next day since the flavours have a chance to get nice and rich, so I was able to give this recipe a real test today.

I adapted this recipe from the mighty Veganomicon by the inimitable Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

It's a hearty, spicy dish with lots of great flavours - just maybe think twice before bringing leftovers to the office for lunch!

Red lentil & cauliflower curry

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes

Serves 4-5


1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
1/2 head cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 large parsnip, peeled & sliced into matchsticks
2-3 stalks celery, sliced (add/sub other veggies as desired)
1 cup red lentils, rinsed & sorted for any small stones
1 Tbsp. high-heat oil (safflower, canola, grapeseed etc.)
2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. each turmeric, cinnamon, coriander & cumin
1 tsp. lime juice
2 cups low-salt vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 Thai chili pepper, thinly sliced*
1-2 Tbsp. cilantro garnish (optional)

*I prefer Thai chili peppers, which are smaller, hotter and more flavourful than jalapeno or serrano peppers; choose a hot pepper based on your comfort level, and add as much/little as you'd like. Take a look at the Scoville Scale for more information about hot peppers.*


1.  Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat

2.  Add onions and stir fry for about five minutes, or until onions are a little soft

3.  Add ginger and hot pepper and cook for another minute

4.  Sprinkle spices over the onion mixture, stir to coat and allow cook for about one minute

5.  Add lentils, stock and water, bring to a boil then partially cover and reduce to medium-low heat

6.  Cook lentils for about 10-12 minutes, or until they are soft and mushy

7.  Add cauliflower and veggies, stir to coat then partially cover and simmer for another 12-15 minutes*

8.  Remove pot from the heat, add the lime juice and stir to combine

9.  Cover and allow mixture to sit for a few minutes, then serve with a side of rice and a sprinkle of cilantro

*I prefer my veggies with a little more bite, so I only cook them for a few minutes at the end. Feel free to extend the cooking time to suit your taste, but note that you may need to add more water if the lentils are starting to stick to the bottom of the pot.*