The New Vegan by Aine Carlin (Kyle Books, 2017) is the essential cookbook for people who dream of going vegan but are daunted by the elimination of common animal-based ingredients from their diets.This curry is the vegan answer to takeout cravings.
I am by no means a curry expert. In fact, this recipe is a hodgepodge of various cuisines thrown together in one harmonious pot. Is it Indian? Nepalese? Who knows! What I am sure of is that it satiates those all too familiar takeout cravings and even though it takes what feels like ages on the stove, the result is absolutely worth the wait. Not too spicy with a rounded flavor thanks to the coconut milk, and small but crucial palm sugar addition… if you can’t find palm sugar in your local supermarket, just use plain old brown sugar. I know sugar is currently on the nutritional death list but I find a little bit here and there can really make a huge difference to a sauce.
For The Cucumber and Coconut Dressing:
• 1/4 small cucumber
• 2 tablespoons coconut cream
• juice of 1/2 lime
• 1 scallion, finely chopped
• pinch of salt
For The Curry Powder:
• 3 cardamom pods
• 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
• 1/2 teaspoon palm sugar or other
• vegan sweetener
• a few black peppercorns
• pinch of cayenne pepper
For The Curry:
• 1 tablespoon coconut oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1 carrot, chopped
• 1 garlic clove
• thumb-size piece of fresh ginger
• 1 red chile
• 3/4 cup dried green lentils
• 14-ounce can coconut milk
• 1/2 gluten-free vegetable bouillon cube
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 5 1/2 ounces spinach
• 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• brown rice, to serve
1. First make the dressing: Seed and finely grate the cucumber, squeezing out any excess juice. Whisk together with the other ingredients; be sure not to overseason. Refrigerate until needed.
2. Next, grind the curry powder ingredients together in a mortar and pestle to a fine powder.
3. Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed frying pan. Add the onion and carrot to the pan, season, and sweat for several minutes until they begin to soften.
4. Using a knife, mince the garlic, ginger, and chile together on a clean cutting board and add them to the pan. Cover and sweat until fragrant before tossing in the dried lentils. Stir to coat and let the lentils absorb any flavors in the pan before sprinkling over the prepared curry powder. Cover and sweat for several minutes until the spices become nicely toasted and the flavors have penetrated the veggies and lentils.
5. Add the coconut milk, bouillon cube, and 1 cup water, cover, and simmer gently over medium heat for about 1 hour until the lentils cook through.
6. Stir through the tomato paste and boil the sauce, uncovered, for about 10 minutes to reduce before adding the spinach to the pan. Cover and let the spinach leaves wilt into the sauce.
7. Add almost all of the cilantro to the pan, reserving a little for a garnish. Once the sauce has sufficiently reduced and the spinach leaves have wilted, serve over a bed of brown rice with a spoonful of the cucumber and coconut dressing.
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Reprinted with permission from The New Vegan by Aine Carlin and published by Kyle Books, 2017.