For curry lovers, this Jamaican version of curry lentils offers a quick and easy vegan side dish. It can also be transformed into a main course meal if treated as such. Simply serve it over rice and add an endless combination of toppings as you would do with a bowl of chili. Even better – because lentils are so small this recipe is done cooking in about 20 to 30 minutes.
There are so many different types of curry that exist. The Jamaican blend is distinguished by the use of allspice, more turmeric, and is cooked with sprigs of fresh thyme. It says “hot curry powder” on the label, but if you’re familiar with spicy food it’s actually quite mild. If you really want it spicy just add a scotch bonnet pepper while it simmers. For some people, the idea of coconut milk can seem too thick and creamy. However, just know that it gets thinned out with a few cans of water. In fact, you have the freedom to use whatever ratio of coconut milk to water you choose.
The great thing about this recipe is that it’s not only for curry lentils. The broth is quite standard and can be successfully applied to chickpeas, spinach, chicken and even curry goat.
Ingredientsfor curry lentils
• 1 cup red lentils
• 1/4 cup coconut oil
• 2 heaping teaspoons garlic & ginger paste
• 1 red onion
• 2 heaping tablespoons of Jamaican curry powder
• 2 heaping teaspoons tomato paste
• a few sprigs of thyme, tied with kitchen twine
• 1 can coconut milk (15.5 oz.)
1. In a large pot, heat coconut oil over medium high heat.
2. Dice two thirds of the red onion and save the remaining third for garnish. To the hot oil, add the garlic & ginger paste and red onion to the hot oil. Sauté until onion are translucent and sweating. Add the thyme.
3. Stir in the curry powder and cook for about 3 minutes to allow the spices to release their flavors. The curry should look like a wet paste.
4. Stir in the tomato paste so its thoroughly incorporated and let the mixture cook for another 3 minutes … until the tomato paste begins to turn a deeper red color, stirring a few times.
5. Add the can of coconut milk and 4 cans of water. Stir thoroughly making sure you scrape up all of the sautéed bits from the bottom of the pot.
6. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water or cook a little while longer if needed.
7. Serve over rice and garnish with thinly sliced red onion. See my article on how to prepare perfect rice.
Yield: About 6 servings.