Believe it or not, I didn’t eat my first curry dish until a few years ago. I know, I know, ALL THE WASTED YEARS!
I was photographing a wedding in the beautiful Oregon woods that united a groom from Walterville and a bride who was originally from India. The caterer made many of the brides’ own recipes for the guests and I was invited to partake. This was at a time when I was trying to be more adventurous with food so I piled a little bit of every dish onto my plate and found a quiet spot among the trees to tuck in.
The dishes were so interesting to me. I didn’t know what most of the ingredients were but I was aware almost all of them were vegetarian. The immediate spiciness gave way to layers and layers of flavors that tasted as though they had spent several hours simmering in large pots or ovens. When the spicy heat built up too much, a nibble of the yogurt sauce helped bring everything back to normal.
While the heat was a bit too much for me in some dishes, I was intrigued by the curried lentils. I had always assumed curry equated to hot and spicy but this curry contained some heat, a hint of sweetness, and so many other flavors that were familiar but unidentifiable.
Since then, I’ve learned everyone’s interpretation of curry is different. Some are hot, Hot, HOT, and some are super mild. I actually quite like spicy food but it’s easy for it to become too much for me (the heartburn struggle is REAL). So I started making curry dishes at home so I could control the amount of heat. I’ve made this dish at least 10 times now and it’s SO easy and satisfying. I almost always have the ingredients for it and customizing is a breeze.
I’ve also made this dish vegetarian by simply leaving out the chicken and adding more chickpeas and/or black beans. I’ve also made it without coconut milk or with homemade coconut milk but I prefer at least one can of coconut milk.
There are a lot of individual spices in this recipe. One option is to make a large batch of the spices and combine them in a jar and then use three tables spoons of it in the recipe.
Side note: I save any and all glass (and some plastic) jars that come my way so I can do this with them! I make spice combinations or buy spices from the bulk section and refill jars that I already have. This was an old honey jar that I cleaned out and painted with chalk board paint.
Have you made this dish? I’d love to hear what you thought of it in the comments!
- 1 lb chicken breasts
- 2 cups red lentils
- 1 15 oz can chickpeas
- 8 cups water
- 1 15 oz can coconut milk
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 chopped onion
- Optional: cilantro to garnish
- Optional: rice (cooked)
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp yellow curry powder
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 inch piece peeled ginger (or 1 tsp ginger powder)
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pour 8 cups of water into slow cooker and add spices.
- Whisk spices into water until well blended.
- Add 2 cups of red lentils, 1 can of drained chickpeas, and chicken breasts (or another can of chickpeas and 2 cans of black beans for vegetarian).
- Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours depending on whether chicken is frozen or not.
- Shred chicken in slow cooker and add coconut milk. Cook for another 30 minutes and serve with rice and cilantro garnish.