Lentils and other pulses, so important in Indian cuisine, do not find a place at the Paleo table.
In my pre-Paleo days, whenever I rustled up an Indian themed feast, lentils were almost certain to get a look-in, as were chick peas in some form or other, so this has been a major stumbling block on my Paleo adventure.
Project Paleo Asian Redux is all about reversing these small setbacks, about finding alternatives to non-Paleo ingredients that do not detract from the original meal or dish’s merits.
When it came to the lentil question, my thoughts turned initially to Masoor Dal, or red lentil curry. This is a curry where the red split lentils are cooked down into a purée. It was also a firm favourite of mine pre-Paleo – it’s a quick, simple, and incredibly cheap dish, one that falls into the “what’s not to like” category.
After considering the problem for a while over a nice cup of green tea, I thought of using a purée composed of swede (rutabaga) and carrot – the texture should be similar, and it should also have that earthy, warming, taste.
I could then add to the purée the old familiar spices that I would once have added to a lentil base.
Serves 1 either as an accompaniment to a main course, or with some Paleo friendly bread as a light lunch or dinner.
- Swede (rutabaga) and carrot, half and half by weight, about 300g in total
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp black cumin seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp onion seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 5 or 6 curry leaves
- 4 small hot birds eye chillies, finely chopped
- 5 nice big cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
- A good handful of fresh coriander (cilantro)
- Coconut oil
- Salt and pepper
- Prepare your swede and carrot. Peel and cut into about 1.5 cm dice. Cook for about 45 minutes, or until really tender. Drain thoroughly, and then mash well, to a smooth and lump-free purée.
- Meanwhile, heat about 2 tbsp coconut oil in a pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot enough so that a cumin seed instantly begins to sizzle when dropped in, add the seeds and curry leaves to the oil, and stir well for a minute or so, savouring the fantastic aroma already coming out of the pan.
- Add the onions, and fry for about 2 minutes.
- Add the ginger and chillies. fry for 2 minutes more.
- Add the garlic and turmeric powder. Fry for 2 minutes more. By this time you might need to add a splash of hot water to keep everything from sticking.
- Add enough hot water so that you get a nice sauce forming in the pan, just don’t make it overly runny at this stage.
- Simmer the sauce for about 15 minutes, adding more water as required.
- Add the swede and carrot purée to the pan, and stir well in. Continue to cook until the dish has the required consistency, and the swede and carrot purée is heated through.
- Stir in fresh coriander (cilantro) to taste before serving. If you do not actually like this blessed herb, then by the beard of the Great Shaman you have my deepest sympathy.
When preparing the sauce you might want to replace the water with coconut milk.