Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Red Lentil and Eggplant Curry

This weekend was one of those perfect ones that tears you away from reality and life; where you find yourself plunked on a rooftop in the middle of the city pretending you're in a different world, but knowing that eventually real life and obligations will prevail. But while you're sitting on that rooftop surrounded by friends, laughing (and maybe crying) you let yourself forget about any responsibilities or tasks that may be looming. This isn't pretend, in those glorious hours you actually believe that against all odds, despite what everyone told you, 'real life' is just an accumulation of fabulous moments like these.

Then of course, I looked at my agenda and immediately gave up on any illusions of freedom and fantasy. So, I got to it. However, a true victim of senioritis, instead of working on that paper or studying for that exam, I headed to my kitchen and got to work. Oddly enough, I almost wish that this curry had taken me longer to make, justifying just a wee bit more procrastination. However, for anyone who is taking life a little more seriously right now, rest assured dinner will be ready in 45 minutes. It's also going to taste like take out, feel homemade and hit the spot.

I saw this recipe over at 101 Cookbooks a little while ago and have been dying to make it ever since. So I did, but aside from the red lentils and coconut milk--which, by the way, are a match made in heaven--my recipe is nothing like Heidi's. I added chunks of eggplant, their sponge-like quality greedily (in the best possible way) absorbed the flavors of the coconut and curry. The eggplant actually added a protein-like addition to the stew; the hearty, chewy bites gently bursting when you sink your teeth in them. I also used an Indian curry paste, rather than a mix of toasted spices and I omitted the raisins simply because I despise them. I am still trying to decide if I prefer this cold or warm, but both are great options depending on what you're craving or how much of a hurry you're in. Speaking of hurrying, I eventually had to get out of my kitchen and into the library, but for the past few nights this dinner has been perfect to come home to; it's not a rooftop, but by 'real life' standards it comes pretty close.

Red Lentil Eggplant Curry
inspired by 101 Cookbooks
(serves 2 main courses)

3 tablespoons clarified butter
1 large onion, finely diced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon curry paste (I used Patak's Madras Curry paste, any will do)
1 thai chili, cut into quarters (I would say this was pretty spicy, but I love spicy food, so gauge this based on how spicy your curry paste is and on your own taste)
1 cup red lentils
4 cups water
1 small can coconut milk (5.5 oz)
1 large eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt to taste (about 1 tablespoon total)
2 scallions, sliced thinly (for garnish)

1) Heat up the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, when it shimmers add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Then add the tomato paste, curry paste and chili stirring to coat the onions.
2) Add the lentils, water and coconut milk. Bring this to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes.
3) Add the eggplant and simmer until the lentils and eggplant are cooked through and tender, another 20 minutes or so. Divide between 2 shallow bowls and sprinkle with scallions.


Jess said...

I love your description of that rooftop moment. Enjoy the day.

aliki said...

This sounds fabulous!