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Author Notes: There are many red lentil curry recipes out there, each with their own tweaks and twists. This is my mother's version, which I love. The recipe is extremely flexible: it can easily be scaled up and down; the heat can be dialed up or muted; kale, Swiss chard, or escarole all work well, but if you could, in a pinch, leave the greens out; the same goes for the butternut squash. The ingredient list might seem a bit on the long side, but many items are things you might have in your pantry, awaiting deployment. The recipe is vegan and gluten free, so it is a great go-to for potlucks. For meat lovers, you can add chicken that's been poached in coconut milk and shredded if you so desire. But it is plenty rich and satisfying as it is! —Emily
- 2 medium white or yellow onions, chopped
- 1 large shallot chopped (optional)
- 1/2 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped (or grated)
- olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1/4 heaping teaspoons cayenne pepper (more or less as desired)
- 1/4 heaping teaspoons coriander
- 1/4 heaping teaspoons cumin
- 1/4 heaping teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 heaping teaspoons turmeric
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (more or less as desired)
- 32 ounces vegetable broth, water, or chicken broth
- 28 ounces can of tomatoes, either pureed or, if whole, squeezed and broken down
- 14 ounces coconut milk
- 2 cups red lentils, checked for stray matter
- 2 cups butternut squash, cubed (fresh or frozen)
- 1 bunch kale, Swiss chard, or escarole, chopped. If using kale or chard, remove the tougher stems. If using chard, chop and reserve the stems separately
- cooked rice, for serving (optional)
- salt and pepper
- In a large pot, sauté the onion, garlic, shallot, and ginger in a glug of olive oil. Add a pinch of salt, keep the heat low to medium, and cover so that the onions turn moist and translucent, not brown and crispy.
- While the onion mix is sautéing, measure all the spices in small bowl and set aside.
- When the onions are translucent, clear a spot at the bottom of the pot and add the tomato paste and red pepper flakes. Stir to heat the tomato paste for a minute. Then add the spices to the pot and stir, cooking for a minute until the spices are aromatic. Be careful not to burn the spices.
- Add the broth (or water), tomatoes, and coconut milk. Then take the tomato can, fill with water, swirl to get the last bits of tomato from it, and add it to the mix. Bring to a boil.
- Add the squash and the red lentils and stir. If using Swiss chard, you can add the chopped chard stems at this point. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 - 40 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Stir regularly to check the consistency. Add water (ideally hot) if the mixture begins to stick or seem dry.
- When the lentils are cooked, add the chopped greens and cook an additional 8 or so minutes until tender.
- Taste for salt and pepper, then let rest a few minutes off the heat before serving. Serve with a scoop of cooked rice or on its own.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best One-Pan Dinner