Meatless Monday–Red Lentil Coconut Curry with Cilantro Chutney

Can you believe there was a time in my life when I was convinced I didn’t like Indian food?

Thankfully, my tastes have changed.  This no-butter chicken, one of my blog’s most popular posts, was a definite catalyst.  I live in an area with quite a few Indian restaurants, which is wonderful.  The real catalyst, though, was my first trip to London nearly two years ago.  Ever since experiencing truly amazing Indian food–both the white table cloth version and the local carry out joint, I’ve craved Indian at least once a week.  No exaggeration.

When Sonja and Alex from A Couple Cooks chose this red lentil coconut curry as one of the January choices in their Pretty Simple Cooking Club.  Because it’s Sonja and Alex’s recipe, I knew it would be good.  But WOW!  This was an absolute, no-brainer, make-again home run!

The spices were perfectly balanced and the cilantro chutney was the most lovely way to add a pop of freshness.  There’s definitely room for adjustment, as well.  If you like spicier food, you can experiment with brands of red curry paste because some are much spicier than others.  Use brown or white basmati rice, depending on preference and what you have on hand.  Not a coconut fan?  Give it a go anyway.  I promise it doesn’t have a strong coconut flavor.  I have the word of someone who isn’t a huge coconut fan.  As for the chutney, don’t count it out just because you don’t like cilantro.  My best friend doesn’t, but that’s not going to stop me from experimenting with a mixture of parsley and mint to make sure she can enjoy this new winter staple.  

In fact, I think I’m going to add use a little mint in my chutney next time I make it for myself.  Which will be approximately tomorrow.  I just can’t stay away from this level of perfection for too long…
   

red lentil coconut curry

Spicy red curry, rich coconut milk, softly floral basmati rice, and a bright, fresh cilantro chutney balance each other perfectly in this vegan red lentil coconut curry–a new winter staple for sure.

Red Lentil Coconut Curry with Cilantro Chutney
slightly adapted from Pretty Simple Cooking

Ingredients:
2 c. uncooked basmati rice
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 (3-in.) piece fresh ginger, grated
4 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 c. dried red lentils
1 c. canned crushed tomatoes
1 c. light coconut milk (canned), divided
2 1/4 c. water, divided
1/4 c. red curry paste (adjust to brand and spice preference)
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
5 c. baby spinach leaves, packed
2 c. packed cilantro leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped
1/4 c. golden raisins
2 TBSP white vinegar

Directions:
1.  Cook rice according to package directions.

2.  To make the curry, heat 2 TBSP of the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Reserve 1/4 cup onion for the chutney and add the rest to the pan.  Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and 2 TBSP ginger and saute 1 minute more.

3.  Add the lentils, tomatoes, coconut milk, 2 cups water, red curry paste, tomato paste, and 1 tsp. salt.  Bring to a simmer and cook very gently, 10-15 minutes, until the lentils are soft.  Stir in the spinach and cook until the leaves wilt.  Taste and add salt and/or coconut milk, if desired.

4.  Meanwhile, make the chutney by putting the reserved onion, cilantro, raisins, vinegar, olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 c. water in a food processor or blender.  Blend into a thick, smooth sauce.

5.  To serve, divide rice and lentils among four bowls and top with a dollop of chutney.

yield: 4 servings

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