Yellow Lentil Vegetable Curry

This curry is a nice start for those who are not used to Indian spices. Indian food tends to be an acquired taste. Some exposure is often required before you fall in love with its flavorful spices. The turmeric is an especially strong anti-inflammatory agent for your body. Keep the chiles to a minimum if your family are novices to spicy food. I used two larger-sized green chiles, but I split them open and cleaned out the seeds and the white parts. The curry had a nice kick but was not too spicy for most adults. You can always add more chiles at the table if it's not hot enough. Keep the seeds in the chilies if you want it spicier. I took it to a lunch potluck assuming that most of the guests wouldn't like it if they were not accustomed to Indian food. I was wrong and came home with an empty pot! It's a very satisfying dish, and you can use a variety of vegetables to make it. I often buy my butternut squash pre-cubed at Trader Joe's to shorten the preparation time, and I love to use cauliflower in all of my curries. Except for the amount of chilies, don't be tempted to tamper with the cumin seed, garlic, chili step; it's critical to its delicious taste. This recipe is an adaptation from Eating Well's Ginger, Split Pea & Curry. I've simplified it a bit, changed it to improve the taste and nutrition, and added more health-promoting turmeric. Here's to your health!
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1 large russet, Yukon Gold, or sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes 1/2 cup yellow lentils 1 1/2 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces 2 cups butternut squash or eggplant, cut or buy in 1/2-inch cubes 2 cup cauliflower florets, cut into 1-inch pieces 2 medium carrots, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices 1 tsp salt 1 tsp ground turmeric 1 tbsp of high-heat-neutral oil, like canola or refined safflower oil 1 tsp cumin seeds 4 large cloves garlic, cut into thin slivers 1-3 fresh green chiles such as Thai or serrano chiles, stemmed and thinly sliced crosswise 1 inch piece of ginger, grated 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional) 1 -2 tbsp lime juice


1) Place the lentils in a large saucepan. Cover with water and rub them with your fingers. Drain the water and repeat this process 3 - 4 times until the water is no longer cloudy; drain again well. Add 4 cups of water to the lentils and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim off the foam that rises to the top. Add the potatoes and return to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes, uncovered.
2) Stir in the green beans, squash or eggplant, cauliflower, carrots, salt, and turmeric. Return to a boil, cover, and reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
3) Meanwhile, heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle and smell fragrant, about 20 seconds. Stir in garlic and chiles (to taste) and cook, stirring, until the garlic begins to brown, about 1 - 2 minutes. Remove the seasoning mixture from the heat and add to the cooked vegetables. Use some of the cooking liquid to deglaze the skillet and pour it back into the vegetable pot.
4) If the curry is as thick you like, go ahead and add the ginger, optional cilantro, and lime juice. If you want to thicken the curry a little more, either cook it for a few minutes longer, uncovered, or place some of the curry into a separate bowl and puree it with a hand-held blender. Then add the pureed mixture back into the pot. Beware, it will thicken with time so you may want to wait to see if you like the consistency prior to serving it. Enjoy!