Curried Lentils with Kale and Coconut Milk
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It’s getting to be that time of year: when nothing is sounding particularly delicious, when I’m over roasting root vegetables, when I’m not craving anything, when I find myself staring at the pantry, then inevitably reaching for the lentils and spices and coconut milk.
I’m not even sure why I made this recipe — I have two other curried lentil recipes that I love — but as I reflected (as one does after eating lentils?), I realized there were several influences:
- The promising title: 10 Minutes to the Richest Indian Soup.
- The accompanying enticing photo of a brilliant yellow broth laced with wilting greens.
- The realization that this new curry essentially combined the favorite elements of both lentil recipes I love — the ginger and coconut milk from one, the amped-up spices from the other — with the added bonus of a heap of spinach, making it a one-bowl wonder.
If you’ve made curried lentils, you’ve likely made something like this before, starting with sautéed onions, garlic and ginger, building with spices (any combination of turmeric, coriander, cumin, fennel, crushed red pepper flakes, and mustard seeds), adding lentils, water and maybe coconut milk, finishing with some sort of garnish. It’s a dish that can be tailored to your liking by adding more or less of any of the spices, and it’s forgiving, too — if you don’t have a spice or two, it will likely turn out well anyway.
This version comes from Milk Street, and I’ve made a few small changes, which I’ve noted below. The most significant difference is the use of French green lentils, which hold their shape, in addition to red, which break down. The combination of textures is nice.
Incidentally, remember those Lightning Fast Sichuan Noodles I wrote about a few weeks back? This recipe comes from that same free PDF I downloaded upon subscribing to Milk Street’s newsletter. Milk Street is a subscription site, but you can get these two recipes and 10 others for free by subscribing. (I promise I don’t work for them.)
Here’s the play by play: Gather your ingredients.
These are the two types of lentils I use:
A microplane is great for finely grating ginger.
Sweat the minced onion and smashed whole garlic cloves in coconut (or other) oil.
Add the spices.
Add the lentils, water, and coconut milk and simmer for about 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop up some kale or other greens.
Stir them in.