I adore Indian cuisine: the spices, aromas, and deliciously satisfying flavours are a mouth-watering indulgence that I sometimes just can’t get off of my mind. Over the years I’ve tried to make curries at home that mimic the authentic taste of good Indian curry, with varying degrees of success, that always seemed to live up to the expectations of my gusts more than myself!
When I first began switching to a more macrobiotic diet, I realized that vegetarian curries are actually quite healthy and ‘macro-friendly’. Queue my interest in seeking out both great local vegetarian Indian restaurants AND a great recipe for at home! While my search for a local restaurant continues, today I’m excited to share a recipe that has forever changed my ability to create amazingly delicious curries right at home with less work involved than one might expect.
Macrobiotic theory generally discourages the frequent use of spices and other pungent or intense ingredients in an effort to keep our diets balanced and as close to neutral as possible, which helps our bodies heal various diseases and injuries as well as function and extract nutrition more efficiently. From a holistic perspective, most things are safe in moderation and when used with the right intention. Due to weak circulation my hands and feet are constantly cold, so I like to include these spices once and a while because they have a great ability to circulate the heat evenly throughout the body – I love that warming effect.
Furthermore, there are numerous health benefits to many of the spices included in a typical curry:
– Turmeric fights inflammation and is beneficial to many inflammatory diseases including reproductive issues, IBS, rheumatoid arthritis, and cystic fibrosis. It also has antioxidant properties which fight free radicals and help to combat mutated cell growth and is therefore beneficial for cancer patients.
– Cumin is a source of iron which helps give energy and strengthen the immune system, and is an important mineral for women (especially those dealing with reproductive issues). It seems to stimulate pancreatic secretions which aid in good digestion and is also shown to have anticarcinogenic properties.
– Coriander/cilantro, known as the ‘diabetic plant’ for its ability to stimulate insulin secretions and lower blood sugar levels, is also known for its cholesterol-lowering abilities as well as free-radical fighting antimicrobial properties. It is also hailed for having extraordinary phytonutrient contents.
Not to mention the fact that the combination of whole grains (rice) and pulses (lentils) creates an ideal protein for human consumption!
This recipe was inspired by Madhur Jaffrey’s “Green Lentil Curry” recipe.
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Curry Paste Ingredients:
– 1 tsp finely grated & mashed fresh ginger
– 3 cloves garlic, mashed to paste
– 2 tbsp sesame oil
– 1 large onion, finely minced
– 2 tsp ground coriander
– 2 tsp ground cumin
– ½ tsp cumin seeds
– 2 tbsp tomato paste OR 2 ume plums pureed with 2 tbsp cup water
– ¼ cup water
Lentil Curry Ingredients:
– 1 ¼ cup du Puy lentils, washed and sorted
– 5 cups water or vegetable broth
– 1 tsp turmeric
– 2 cups assorted vegetables (carrots and green beans; sweet potato; etc.)*
– 1 cup grilled & cubed tofu (optional)
– 1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
– 2 tsp salt
– 2 tsp cayenne and/or black pepper (optional)
In a stainless steel skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. In a small bowl, combine the ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, and water to make a smooth paste. In a separate small bowl, puree 2 tbsp of water with either the tomato paste or flesh of ume plum.
Fry the cumin seeds until fragrant and toasted, stirring frequently, about 1 minute. Add onion and cook about 1-2 minutes. Add spice mix and cook until the water evaporates. Stir in tomato paste or ume and cook until thick. Set spice mixture aside to cool.
Bring lentils, turmeric, and water to a boil. Turn down to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Add vegetables, tofu, salt, pepper, and ¾ cup of the cilantro and cook an additional 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Stir in curry paste and the remaining ¼ cup cilantro. Simmer 5 minutes and serve over steamed rice.
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* If using sweet potato, cut it into smaller, evenly sized cubes and cook with lentils from the very beginning.