I first made this lentil, pea and potato curry about ten years ago when I was trying to teach myself to cook vegetarian meals beyond my usual repertoire of Quorn spaghetti bolognaise (from a jar) and pasta with roasted pepper (from a jar). You can see a theme appearing here. I have not always cooked, you see.
Since then, however, I have probably made this curry a hundred times. For me, it seems to be the answer to so many cooking conundrums:
Pressed for time? Make the curry.
Skint? Make the curry.
Under the weather? Make the curry.
As life in our glorious capital imposes one or more of these upon us frequently through our long working hours, extortionate rents and close proximities to our fellow commuters, you will not be surprised by the frequency at which it appears on my table. This curry takes no more than 40 minutes from chopping the onion to putting the mango chutney on the side of your plate and ripping yourself a slice of naan bread, and there are no complicated processes to it whatsoever. Many of the ingredients can be taken from the storecupboard, so, providing you have built up a fairly decent collection of spices, it will cost you very little to make. I very often have red lentils and chopped tomatoes in the cupboard, an onion and a potato in the larder and some peas in the freezer, leaving me very little to buy.
By far, though, the best feature of this curry is that it heats up beautifully. My husband has been home early from work almost every night this week, but usually he arrives home barely an hour before I have to go to bed. I’d almost forgotten how nice it is to have him around in the evenings. One of the challenges of being on different schedules is finding meals that can be eaten at two different points throughout the evening. It’s not really practical for me to eat so late, so I have to cook something that can either be assembled and cooked quickly when he comes in (for who wants to cook after working that late?) or that can be heated up. Not having a microwave is an additional challenge. This curry heats up well in a pan, and even benefits from sitting around for a couple of hours to let the flavours develop. With a bit of freshly-cooked rice and a naan, it is a stress-free late night dinner.
As far as failsafe dishes go, this curry is definitely one of mine. Best eaten in winter. This curry is both vegetarian and vegan.
Lentil, Pea and Potato Curry
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
100g red lentils
400g tin chopped tomatoes
250ml coconut milk
250ml vegetable stock
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar
150g frozen green peas
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp lemon juice
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently cook the onion over a medium heat until soft and translucent – approximately 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground turmeric, chilli powder and ground cinnamon and cook for another couple of minutes.
Add the potato and red lentils and stir to coat. Turn up the heat a little and add the chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, vegetable stock, garam masala, salt and brown sugar. Stir well and bring to the boil, before lowering the heat and simmering for about 20 minutes, until the potato is tender. Add the peas and cook for a further five minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the coriander and lemon juice. Serve with rice and naan.
Adapted from a recipe by Meditterasian.