Tomato, Kale and Green Lentil Dal

I enjoy meat. Don’t get me wrong. But meat never makes me feel as good as fresh vegetables. Now I’m not talking in a meat-makes-me-feel-shameful kind of way. I’m talking in an energy kind of way. Fresh vegetables make me happy. Meat, more often than not, simply fills me up. It’s only major advantage is chewy texture.

Simply served with naan, this vegetarian dish is supremely satisfying.

Simply served with naan, this vegetarian dish is supremely satisfying.

The obvious problem with vegetables and the fact of living in Canada is that winter puts a severe kink in accessibility. There just aren’t enough Eliot Coleman’s to go around. So what is one to do? Traditionally, I would have relied on cured meats, root vegetables with a particular emphasis on potatoes and preserves. This last piece is where Sabile Trimm comes in (See : The Canning Chemist). She has made it her goal to reduce local farm waste by canning what isn’t sold and, by consequence, making the summer’s bounty available throughout the year. It’s a very elegant solution. For me, it’s a great way to buy local and eat what’s in season without having to forego tomatoes and other summer fruits.

All of this brings me to this great slow cooker recipe. It literally takes 10 minutes to put together in the morning and by the time you get home from work with your gaggle of cranky kids, supper’s already ready. If you manage to grab some fresh naan bread from your local Indian restaurant on your way, even better! It doesn’t get any easier than this. And it just so happens that this dal is a healthy and hearty winter meal. It also happens to be vegan. But trust me, you won’t miss the meat.

A few notes related to the seasonings :

  • For the ginger and garlic, I use the Squish tool. It makes grating and mincing these ingredients very quick and easy.
  • For the garam masala, I used the one from the spice kit which comes with the cookbook The Spice Trekkers Cook at Home. I’ll write about them eventually but, for now, suffice it to say that I’m very jealous of the de Viennes’ life: travelling the world to eat, find awesome spices and write cookbooks. How’s that for the good life?

  • For the paprika, I’ve been using the Hungarian style in pretty much everything lately. You can find the Pride of Szeged brand I use here.

Ingredients

3 cups green lentils, washed and drained
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
Piece of ginger, about 1 inch, grated (see note above)
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 dried guajillo peppers or other large and sweet dried pepper
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp garam masala (see note above)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sweet paprika (see note above)
1 tsp mustard oil (optional)
750 ml (25 oz) can of diced tomatoes
1.5 L (50 oz) warm water
4 cups firmly packed kale, chopped


Method

  1. Put all ingredients except kale in a large slow cooker and stir.
  2. Cook on high for 6½ hours. Add kale and cook for 30 more minutes.

  3. Serve with fresh naan or other Indian bread.