When I started cooking more plant-based dishes I got really interested in Indian cooking. Indian cooking uses a lot of veggies and dresses them up nicely using fragrant spices, herbs and oils. Many dishes in Indian cuisine are naturally healthy, delicious and many of them are not that costly.
My ultimate favorite spice is coriander. Coriander is often used in Indian cooking. Derived from the leaves and shoots of fresh cilantro, coriander is available in whole seeds and powder form. Whole coriander seeds are slightly smaller than the size of whole peppercorns and are bursting with flavor and fragrance. Coriander powder isn’t bad and is much more convenient. Just be sure to use buy and use powder that is less than 6 months old because after that it begins to lose its quality. If you buy the whole seeds, they will need to be crushed. I have a mortar and pestle that I use to crush garlic, spice mixes and make guacamole. When crushing, hold one hand with the pestle and use the other hand to cover the seeds you’re crushing or those little guys will just fly right outta there. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can throw them in a sealable plastic bag and pound with a meat tenderizer, a heavy spoon, or my favorite – stomp on them.
*Side Health Note: Turmeric, which is also commonly used in Indian dishes, has received positive feedback in the health community regarding its health benefits. Recent studies have found that turmeric makes cancer tissue more receptive to cancer treatment. Researchers are very excited and hopeful about this spice. More to come…
I love this Curried Lentils recipe. I continually cook this dish because it’s delicious, nutritious and filling. It contains a nice blend of spices, it’s both savory and sweet, and it smells divine. The measured amounts of spices are only a guideline; alter according to your liking. Here I added cashews but feel free to add another nut or an assortment of nuts. The dish is cooked to a soup-like consistency. I usually serve it over jasmine rice.
Garlic Curried Lentils
- 1 cup lentils, rinsed
- 3-4 cups water
- 1 tsp. salt or to taste
- 3 tsp. turmeric
- 2 Tbsp. canola oil
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 3 tsp. cumin, 3 tsp. coriander
- 1/8 tsp. chili powder, 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/8 cup raisins
Place lentils, water, turmeric and salt in saucepan. Bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat and cover pan. Let simmer until lentils are soft and you get a soup-like consistency (about 20-25 minutes). In a smaller pan heat oil, garlic and shallots for 2 minutes on low heat. Add cumin, coriander, chili powder and cayenne to same pan for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Add all items in small pan to cooked lentils in large pan. Add lemon juice, cilantro, and raisins and toss. Serve over rice. Enjoy!