Today I've come to the realization that, while I've been blogging for about eight years now, I haven't yet shared with you my easy lentil curry recipe. I've shared lentil recipes (here and here!) And I've share curry recipes (here and here!) But never a lentil curry! Indian curries, from all regions, are one of my favourite things to cook. They're easy, often involving only one pot. They're full of protein, extremely flavourful, perfectly satiating, and never too heavy - making them excellent vegan or vegetarian options. Indian food newbie? Please note that Indian food is SO much more than butter chicken!

This particular curry recipe differs from my others as it is slightly more liquid. It is a hearty soup/stew like meal that tastes even better the next day - making it a perfect addition to your weekday meal prep lineup. You may soak your lentils overnight - but cook them long enough and it really isn't necessary. I used dupuy lentils, but beluga (black) lentils would work equally well. 

Thanks to Smitten Kitchen, I discovered the magic of monter au beurre: literally bringing to life (lifting) with butter. And you know what? You can also monter au coco - lift it up with coconut cream and keep it vegan. (Because in my world, there's ALWAYS a vegan option!) All this means is that you'll add your butter and/or cream at the very end - right before serving. The flavour explosion that happens at this moment is unreal. My butter-chicken loving boyfriend was an instant convert.

Note - as stated in some of my previous curry posts - curry is NOT a spice. I repeat: CURRY. IS. NOT. A. SPICE. That yellow powder that you buy at the supermarket is a spice blend - often with added preservatives that you really don't need in your food. You're much better off using individual spices as done in this recipe. This vegetarian curry combines a lovely mix of onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, anise, coriander, turmeric & cinnamon. Finish it off with a little butter (or coconut cream to keep it vegan) for a little je-ne-sais-quoi-melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.

Butter Lentil Curry
adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Punjabi Style Lentils

2 tbsp oil
1 large onion, diced
1 tbsp garlic-ginger paste
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
1/4 tsp anise or fennel seed
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 finely chopped àrbol chile pepper (more, to taste)
1 cup dried dupuy lentils
4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
4 tsp salted butter (or coconut cream)
4 tsp heavy cream (optional)

Heat oil in dutch oven or large saucepan. Sautée onions over medium heat until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Lower heat to medium & add cumin seeds, garlic-ginger paste. Cook for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes, fennel/anise, turmeric, cinnamon & chile. Cook for another 5 minutes, until mixture starts to bubble. Add lentils & water. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for one hour. Remove lid. Add salt & more chile to taste. Add cilantro, butter & cream (if using) and stir gently. Serve immediately, with more cream on top if desired. Serves 4. 

Polenta! What IS it, exactly? Please, forget that weird looking tube version that you'll sometimes find in the International aisle at the store. You can easily make your own polenta at home in a matter of minutes. MINUTES! Polenta is creamy cooked cornmeal - very similar to Southern grits. Think savoury cream of wheat - but made of corn. It's incredibly versatile, as it takes on the flavour of whatever you decide to spice it with. Many recipes will tell you to load it with cheese, but I thought I'd make it lighter & change it up with a bit of mediterranean flair. Polenta without cheese?! TRUST ME. The combination of tangy yogurt, zingy sumac, bright turmeric & deliciously potent tarragon will take your tastebuds to new heights.

Creamy Spiced Polenta with Tarragon Mushrooms
an original recipe by allison sklar

For the polenta
2 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup instant polenta*
2 tsp sumac**
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
pinch salt
1/2 cup unsweetened greek or balkan yogurt

For the mushrooms
4 cups white and/or cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
2 tsp sumac
1 tbsp cooking oil (canola, vegetable, etc)
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

* Looking for Instant Polenta? Click here if you're in the U.S.A. and here if you're in Canada. 
** Looking for sumac? Click here if you're in the U.S.A. or here if you're in Canada. 

In a large pan, heat oil. Add mushrooms and reduce heat to medium, sautéeing (without moving around too much) for about 15 minutes, until they have reduced. Add tarragon & sumac. Set aside and keep warm.

Bring water to a boil. Gently stream in polenta and whisk constantly. Reduce heat and continue to whisk gently until mixture thickens (about 5 minutes). Add sumac, turmeric, paprika, salt and yogourt. Spoon into bowls and serve with mushrooms on top, sprinkled with additional sumac and fresh coriander/cilantro.

(Note: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon, meaning that (at no cost to you!) you'll be helping to sponsor my blog if you purchase something after clicking on them! Win-win!)

I had to start this off in CAPS LOCK to express my excitement. Not only was this pasta dish quick and easy to make, but it was blow-your-mind-tasty. It's one of those I-can't-believe-it's-vegan dishes that you can serve to your friends and be like, oh, this little thing, it's so simple, no biggie! Stop what you're doing and make this now. 

Ingredient substitutions? We got you covered! Don't like sundried tomatoes? Add fresh ones instead! Don't like olives? Exchange them for chopped macadamia nuts or pumpkin seeds! Don't have green beans? Use asparagus! See? No reason why you can't make this, like, right now. 

2 tbsp grapeseed or canola oil (for cooking)
125g (4oz) dry or fresh tagliatelle (or any other long flat pasta, such as fettuccine)
200g fresh green beans
2 medium zucchini (courgettes), cut into strips
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
1/4 cup chopped olives
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
zest from one lemon
6 cloves of garlic
cracked black pepper, to taste
optional: 1/4 cup grated fresh parmiggiano reggiano or grana padano*

Prepare your veggies and have everything ready before starting. Bring a large pot of water to boil. While you're waiting, oil a cast iron or carbon steel pan. Get it really hot and drop in your beans and zucchini. Turn the heat down as they sizzle. 

Once your pasta water is boiling, put your pasta in and put a 6 min timer so you don't overcook it. 

Go back to your veggies and move around with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula. Scrape the bottom of the pan to make sure all those toasty bits of flavour are incorporated into the mix. 
Toss in your chopped sun-dried tomatoes and olives. 

Grate garlic and lemon over the whole mix. Add frozen peas and mix until just defrosted and warmed up. Drain your pasta once it's ready (set aside if it's ready before the veggies!) 

Toss everything together and add some black pepper. Add frozen peas at the end, just before you add your drained pasta.

*If you're vegan, omit this ingredient as it isn't absolutely necessary!