Golden Red Lentil Dal with Cilantro-Speckled Basmati
For the curry:
- 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil or grapeseed oil
- 1 1/2 cups diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
- 3 large or 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 1/2 cups peeled and finely diced carrots (about 2-3 large)*
- 2 teaspoons curry powder, or to taste**
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
- 1 (14-ounce/398-millilitre) can light coconut milk
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, plus more if desired to thin the broth
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
- 1 teaspoon cane sugar (optional)
- 1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach
For the rice:
- 1 cup dry basmati rice
- 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil or vegan butter
- 1 3/4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, or as needed
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, large stems removed and finely chopped***
- Fine sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Squeeze of fresh lime juice, to taste
- Green onions, thinly sliced
- Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- Toasted pepita seeds (shelled pumpkin seeds)
- Squeeze of lime juice (optional)
For the curry: Add the oil in a large pot and increase heat to medium. Add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine. Sautée over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.
Stir in the ginger and carrots, and continue sautéing for another few minutes over medium heat.
Add the curry powder, cumin, and turmeric. Stir well. Cook for a minute, until fragrant.
Pick over and rinse the lentils in a fine mesh sieve. Stir in the entire can of coconut milk, red lentils, broth, and salt. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, covered with the lid ajar, for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the lentils and carrots are tender. Stir occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking to the bottom. Stir in a touch more broth if you'd like a slightly thinner consistency. After cooking, stir in all of the spinach until wilted. Stir in the black pepper, cayenne (if using), and sugar (if using). Taste and adjust salt, if desired.
Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Add the rice into a medium pot along with the oil and broth. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, cover with a lid, and cook for 12 to 16 minutes, until the rice is soft and tender. Fluff with a fork and stir in the cilantro. Season to taste with salt and lime juice. Keep the lid on until ready to serve.
Add a generous scoop of rice on a plate or bowl and top with a couple ladlefuls of curry. Add your desired toppings and serve immediately. Leftovers will keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 to 6 days. The curry can also be frozen for up to 4 weeks, possibly longer. For easy freezer storage, add the cooled curry into a freezer-safe bag, press out the air, and freeze on a flat surface. Thaw overnight in the fridge, or simply leave on the counter until mostly thawed.
* The smaller you dice the carrots, the faster they cook! I opt for thinly sliced carrots here to hasten cook time.
** Be sure to use a good-quality curry powder (one you enjoy the taste of) as a poor-tasting one can throw the flavours off. I am quite fond of Simply Organic curry powder.
*** Not a cilantro fan? Simply leave it out and prepare the rice without it. No biggie!
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