Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Red Lentil (Vadouvan) Curry Coconut Stew

This time of year it's just tough to get inspired.  Had my fill of root vegetables; how many ways can you prepare beets?  Winter squash is just about done for the season.  And the sweet potatoes I bought a few weeks ago are starting to sprout, as I just can't get motivated to roast them.  The worst of the winter is hopefully behind us, but spring and its bounty is still a ways away.  Not much in season at the moment, at least here in Washington, D.C.  Just a bit blah all around....gray skies included.

That being said, on a recent trip to Chicago, I restocked with some essentials (and some not-so-essentials) that are difficult to find here at home.  First stop is always to the Spice House for an assortment of spices, including a Vadouvan curry blend and some unique chile flakes called Urfa Biber (a rich, smoky, raisiny Turkish chile) that caught my attention.  Oh, along with fresh masa for making tortillas, dried hominy, Chinese dried ('facing heaven') chiles, coffee from my new favorite Chicago roaster, a loaf of dark rye from these guys and a few other odds and ends (including a few quirky t-shirts from here to add to my collection).  Quite the eclectic assortment of finds.  I always pack light to ensure I have enough room in my bag for culinary treasures. 

The Vadouvan curry mix, rainbow chard, and some red lentils I had on-hand fueled my inspiration for today's dish.  Vadouvan is a French interpretation of an Indian Masala called vadavam, from the Pondicherry region of southern India where French colonial influence is still felt.  There are many versions of curry, but this French twist typically includes toasted shallots, onions, and garlic.  Here's a good recipe if you want to make your own Vadouvan blend.

The red lentils are spruced up with an assortment of spices, including coriander, cumin, cayenne, and turmeric (along with the Vadouvan), in addition to onion, garlic, ginger, coconut milk, and canned tomatoes.  A simple, homey, deeply satisfying dish that's just perfect for a gray day like today...

I love my [Mexican] molcajete; it's perfect for grinding any number of spices (just toast the spices -- coriander and cumin -- a few minutes in a hot skillet and then grind)...

Stay warm with a bowl of red lentil Vadouvan soup...

Red Lentil (Vadouvan) Curry Coconut Stew
serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee
1 large onion, small dice
4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
Sea salt to taste
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground
3 to 4 tablespoons of Indian curry spice blend, depending on spice blend (used a Vadouvan spice blend)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes with juices
1 pound red lentils, washed and picked over
2 quarts water, vegetable, or chicken stock
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cayenne to taste
2 large handfuls, Swiss chard leaves, chopped
1 (14-ounce) can (full-fat) coconut milk
Juice of 1/2 lime
Chopped cilantro
Cashews (toasted in a dry skillet until lightly browned), chopped

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, cook, stirring until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, ginger, ½ teaspoon salt, ground cumin and coriander, curry powder, and turmeric, and stir until fragrant, 1 minute.  Add the canned tomatoes with their juices.  Taste and re-season with salt.

Stir in the lentils and water or stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes.  Season with black pepper and cayenne to taste.  Taste and adjust for salt.

Add the Swiss chard, coconut milk, and lime juice, and cook until the chard is wilted and the coconut milk heated through, about 2-3 minutes.  Taste and reseason, if needed.

Ladle into individual bowls.  Top with chopped cilantro and toasted chopped cashews.  Serve with some crusty bread.

Note: Alternatively, you can garnish with toasted coconut flakes, sliced scallions, or chives.  


Anonymous said...

This is awesome. Rich flavors, great texture, nice slow heat. Can't wait to eat it everyday this week!

Sixpence and A Blue Moon said...

This looks delicious. I make a red lentil curry soup that we love, but so going to make this.

I just found your blog via Pinterest and love it. I'll be visiting often.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful and oh so healthy recipe.

Jeanette said...

Forget the food I love the photos..anyone who does photos like this will have amazing food.

Lindsey Flannery said...

Just made this... so, so delicious. The aroma is even more enticing than the flavor, if that is possible. I used a curry blend (not vadouvan) from the bulk section at my local health market and I found I needed to increase the quantity quite a bit when I tasted during cooking. Everything else was exactly right on.

Magdalena said...

This was delicious. I added extra garlic and ginger because that is my preference. I need to find the Vadouvan spice one of these days. This was hearty, soothing and invigorating. Thanks for posting.

jkvalley said...

Very tasty recipe - thanks! Would be nice to have nutrition info as well.

Amy Andrews said...

Thank you! Beautiful photos - making this as soon as I go get my Timeless lentils. Thanks for the spice grinding inspiration too.

fdfd said...

Absolutely gorgeous!

Wild Greens and Sardines said...


Sarah Ward said...

Just wondering how this would freeze? Looks amazing!

Wild Greens and Sardines said...

Sarah, I haven't tried freezing the lentils. If you try freezing, please report back.

Faith Nash said...

I just made this and it is amazing, thank you!

Barry said...

Had this pinned for a while but held of because I couldn't find Vadouvan curry (and I wasn't about to attempt to make it). Well, I found it and finally made the dish. So damned good! Seriously follow the recipe, you won't be disappointed. Hoping to enjoy many times this winter.

Wild Greens and Sardines said...

@Barry. So happy you enjoyed it!