Monday, June 10, 2013

Some Spice and a Unique Gift

I've mentioned on more than one occasion that the best gifts in the world are the ones that we make ourselves. It's pretty awesome to bake up a batch of cookies or whip up some homemade chocolate hazelnut spread, put a bow on it and give it to someone you love.

It's also pretty awesome to be on the receiving end of some homemade goodies. I received a very unique homemade gift just this weekend. In between breakfast, coffee, girl talk and lots of giggles, my friend pulled out a package for me. "I made you curried lentils," she said, and followed that with "I also put together all the ingredients you'll need to make a full batch." Isn't that awesome! Not only did I get a container of thick, rich, spicy lentil curry, but I also got a goody bag filled with red lentils, a tomato, an onion, tons of garlic, and a little packet filled with the curry paste and spices. It totally solved my dinner problems -- especially today with the rainy spurt that we're having. It was great to tuck into a spicy, tomato-y bowl of comfort.

When I heated up the "sample" I got, I added a little extra water, stirred in a handful of spinach and ate it as is -- like a thick stew. It needed nothing else. When we actually made the full recipe, we snuck in some cauliflower in the end for a little extra veggie love, and had it over bowls of brown rice. Delicious both ways! This curry is spicy, but not so spicy as to leave you sweating. It's got a flavour kick from both curry paste and powder, and so you know that it'll be tasty.

This recipe comes together in a snap, thanks to the quick-cooking red lentils, and was stress-free to make, even on a Monday night when I got home later than usual, soaked to the skin from the downpour outside. this recipe makes a nice big pot, so if you're like us with only two in your family, you'll have plenty of leftovers to last you the week.

If you're craving little weeknight spice and want to share the love with some friends, give this recipe a go. While you're waiting for a it to cook, grab a couple zip lock bags, toss these pantry staples together and give someone the amazing gift of a stress free supper.

Red Lentil Curry
adapted from allrecipes via TodayisBananas

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of curry paste
1 tablespoon of curry powder
1 teaspoon of tumeric
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 large tomato diced
3-4 cups of water, vegetable broth or tomato juice (alternately you could just use a can of crushed tomatoes)
2 cups of red lentils, rinsed well
Optional add-ins: half a head of cauliflower cut into florets, a few handfuls of baby spinach

1. In a large pot, sweat the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium low heat until things get soft, fragrant and translucent -- about 3 minutes

2. Add in the curry paste, and all the spices, plus the salt and sugar. Stir well.

3. Add in the tomato, liquids, lentils and turn up the heat. Stir well.

4. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the lentils are tender, but not falling apart. You may need to add extra liquid if things get too dry.

If you're add the cauliflower, add it now -- bury the florets in the bottom and let them hang out there for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit for another five minutes. If you're adding the spinach, now is the time. Stir them in gently to wilt.

5. Serve -- rice is awesome with it, obviously, but so would some nice whole wheat flat bread.

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