About a year ago I made a huge lifestyle change: I went vegan.
One rainy night, my boyfriend and I were looking for an interesting documentary and came across a “show and tell” of animal brutality in America. So powerful, I made an instant decision to cut meat and dairy out of my diet.Â Magically, many of my health conditions improved (like my eczema, a skin condition that can’t be cured but can be controlled). Along with clearer skin, I got leaner, and caffeine wasn’t as much of a necessity.
I now fully believe that a plant-based diet isn’t only better for the greater good but is also better for our bodies.
In becoming vegan, I started paying more attention to flavors and textures.Â In exploring different regions of the world, I’ve found that Asia and the Middle East provide ideal ingredients, spices, and proteins for cooking vegan dishes.
Take lentils. A staple bean in India, lentils are packed with twice as much protein as meat (I always love throwing that fact at carnivores). They’re a great source of folate, fiber, iron and potassium. And, lentils are friendly on your food-budget.
Unfortunately, lentils can have a bit of a stigma.Â They’re “too” healthy, they have no flavor, they’re mushy, yahdee yah.Â Blasphemy!Â Lentils are the perfect base of many dishes, and this one with a red curry paste is no exception.
Making curry might sound intimidating, but Â it’s so simple and yet provides a complex array of tastes for your palate. Â World-renowned turmeric, with its distinct earthy, hot peppery flavor and a mustard smell, reminiscent of orange and ginger, will make your kitchen smell like a spice market in Marrakech. Â A rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant, turmeric also acts as an anti-inflammatory, and aids everything from disease to digestion.
This red curry dish is fantastic over brown basmati rice, with raita or greek yogurt or chutney.Â It only takes 45 minutes to prepare, and if your portion is large enough you’ll have leftovers for a week.Â Oh, and to all of you carnivores out there, eat more vee-gan.
Red Lentil Curry:
brown, green or red dried lentils, 2 cups
coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon
onion, 1 large, minced
garlic, 1 teaspoon, minced
turmeric spice, 1 teaspoon
cumin spice, 1 teaspoon
salt, 1 teaspoon
chili powder, 1 teaspoon
curry powder, 1 tablespoon
curry paste, 2 tablespoons
sugar, 1 teaspoon
ginger root, 1 teaspoon
tomato puree, one 14.25-ounce can
1. Rinse lentils and remove any debris. Combine lentils with 4 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a rapid simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and cook until tender, about 25-30 minutes. Note: Â keep lid slightly tilted to let some moisture escape. Otherwise, the lentils will be mushy in texture.
2. While lentils are cooking, sautÃ© onions in the coconut oil or olive oil until caramelized, about 10 minutes.
3. Combine the curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, chili powder, cumin, salt, sugar, garlic and ginger in a mixing bowl. Mix well to form a paste.
4. When onions are cooked add the paste to the pan and stir constantly on high for 1-2 minutes.
5. Stir in the tomato puree, and reduce heat to low. Allow the curry paste to simmer until the lentils are ready.
6. When the lentils are tender, drain them briefly (if needed, you don’t want any excess water or your curry will be sloppy). Mix the curry paste into the lentils and serve immediately.
Riley Blanks graduated with a degree in photography from the University of Virginia.Â She is pursuing a career in high-profile photography and multimedia.Â She currently lives between Austin, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee.Â When she isnâ€™t freelancing for publications and events, Riley is working at the Patterson House, a well renowned pre-prohibition classic cocktail bar that prides itself on unique flavors and ingredients.Â Having lived all over the world, she gains much of her inspiration in cooking from other cultures.