This week I made a favorite vegan recipe from the archives: Red Lentil with Onions from Sunanda Banham's Indian Kitchen. I met Sunanda when I lived in Edinburgh and was active in the American Women's Club of Central Scotland.
In my mind, this dish became a comfort food - probably because it's bright color and earthy, warm taste. Scotland's cold, dreich, winter was still new to me. I was not prepared for it to rain so hard my pockets would fill with water or watch the wind blow brick chimneys down to the street.
Red Lentil Curry
Recipe by Sunanda Banham
1 cup of red lentil
1 large onion, chopped.
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger (or more, to taste)
2 T. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeno chili, cut in half, lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt to taste and vegetable oil for cooking
Pot of rice.
Bring lentils, chopped onion, and 2 cups of water to boil in saucepan. Add 2 T. vegetable oil to lentils to stop from boiling over.* Make a pot of the rice of your choice. Cook until lentils are tender but holding their shape. Add turmeric, cumin, ginger and more water if necessary. The consistency should be a little thicker than soup. Remove from heat.
In a small frying pan, heat 2 T of oil and add jalapeno and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Cook for 1 minute and pour over lentil. Sprinkle fresh, chopped cilantro over the top. Service with rice.
*I try to cut back on oil in cooking whenever I can, but after experimenting with this dish, I've found it is best to make the recipe as it is written. The oil concentrates the flavors of the spices. If you decide to cut out some oil, don't add it to the red lentils during the boiling stage, choosing instead to saute the jalapeno and garlic in oil for that critical flavor kick.
**Meat Man Mike ate it, and didn't complain, but I noticed he was putting Thousand Island salad dressing all over it. To be fair, curry isn't his favorite thing, and I knew that. But sometimes I have success with Mike if I just don't talk a lot about what it is.
I've lost touch with Sunanda, but Sundanda - if you're reading this, I'm still thinking of you and enjoying your cookbook!