My husband and I have a love of spicy food. This means we tend to eat a lot of ethnic food that contains a kick. Due to our location (Phoenix) and ease/price of ingredients, that often means Mexican food, but we are also huge fans of Thai and Indian food. My sweetheart has done SO MUCH for me this pregnancy while I have felt totally zonked/super sick so when I have a day with a little bit of energy, I like to try and take on a project to either help catch us up as a household or that will be a nice surprise for him. I knew he’d been wanting to try some curry recipes, and since it is still WAY too hot for October, finding a recipe that could be done in the crockpot was perfect! Definitely not the most traditional way to make a dish like this, but much simpler and less likely to make my kitchen feel like an oven.
I used this recipe for curried lentils as the base of our dinner… but in an effort to use what we already had in our pantry, I used green lentils instead of the red/yellow lentils the recipe recommended. That meant they were a little sturdier and had to cook a bit longer than the other variety, but I knew that from making earlier lentil dishes. I also strongly advise having a lemon/lemon juice on hand and taking the suggestion of adding this when serving as the extra acidity really helped bring out the rest of the flavors!
My son and I have had sniffly noses since Monday, so using all these spices were great for my sinuses but proved a bit difficult on my smell sensitivity/nausea while I was preparing the curry paste (another reason why the crock pot was a good idea). Once we hit the evening and it was time for serving though, my nausea was gone and the delicious smells still managed to get through my stuffy nose. I was so excited for dinner!
I decided a few hours before my husband got home that it would be an extra nice surprise to make him homemade naan. I know he loves that and we’ve been budgeting so buying the packs from Trader Joes that he usually eats just hasn’t been a necessity/priority. Plus, since once again I’d made something with tomato, I wanted to at least have something hot and freshly made for my son to have with his dinner! I found a recipe from one of my favorite websites called Budget Bytes for naan that used all ingredients we had on hand anyway. The recipe does call for the dough to rise and making them took a time investment I wasn’t quite anticipating- I began to doubt whether or not this had been a good idea… until I tasted a piece! It was so much lighter and more delicious than store bought and it was fun to watch the dough bubble up. Plus, I always love an excuse to use my cast iron skillet and that was a perfect tool for this recipe. All three of us were obsessed with the way the naan turned out. and I will definitely make it again- maybe with some garlic or alongside some spicy hummus next time.
The nice thing about the lentil recipe I found is that it lists ways to make the dish vegetarian or vegan depending on your dietary needs. If you don’t need the recipe to be vegan, you can add butter and cream and if you do you can add coconut milk instead (and presumably vegan butter…). I split the difference. I added some butter (I also buttered the naan which was SUCH a good choice- but that wasn’t vegan anyway as it called for yogurt in the dough recipe…) but cream sounded too heavy for a weeknight meal and we don’t usually keep cream in the house anyway unless I have a special baking project, so unsweetened coconut milk was just fine and added a creamy sweetness to balance out some of the earthy and spicy notes in the rest of the dish. We put the lentils on a bed of rice and dipped naan into it until we were all very full.
This recipe makes a TON of lentils so be prepared for lots of leftovers. I am also adding this to my list of dishes I may tentatively try to freeze either in its completed form or as a ready to throw in the crockpot meal. I also want to try again with red lentils and with red instead of yellow curry powder and see how that changes things!