This past week I decided to order Indian food for dinner. I should’ve known it wouldn’t end well. I don’t really like Indian food. Correction. I don’t like most Indian restaurants. The food is typically as authentic as a Chipotle burrito. But I’d just finished teaching a baking class. It was late. I was tired and hungry. The restaurant happened to be in the right place at the right time. Plus, their curry actually smelled pretty good. So, I threw caution to the wind and decided to give it a try.
I sat patiently for thirty minutes, waiting for my order. I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t a bad sign that neither the cooks, nor the patrons, were Indian. When my bag finally arrived, the rich scents of cardamom and cumin helped me forget my fears. I looped the bag around my arm, scooped up a box I’d been carrying, and headed home.
It was about four blocks later, once I’d climbed all the steps to the top floor of the parking lot, that I started to feel like something wasn’t right. To be specific, my pants. They felt oddly warm. Was I imagining things? I passed under a light and caught a glimpse of the stream of curry, dripping out of the bottom of the paper bag. Someone hadn’t closed the container properly. Now, I was holding a bomb that was about to explode. Before I could come up with an escape plan, the bag gave way, bathing me in shrimp curry.
Dinner was now spread all over the ground (and me). But this, was actually the least of my worries. My husband was watching our daughter. It meant he had the car with the goldfish crackers wedged between the seats, and milk stains on the carpet. I had the brand-new Tesla with cream interior and the scent of a car that had never been touched by a toddler’s hands. The smell of my curry-covered pants would stick to the seats like skunk spray clinging to a dog. There was only one solution I could come up with. I left our dinner in the street, pulled my pants off in the parking lot (if the couple in the BMW, waiting for my parking spot are reading this. Sorry for flashing you! Now you understand) and drove home in my underwear.
I wish I could tell you that this curry recipe is what I whipped together when I got home, because I’m such an amazing wife, not to mention a badass chef. But I was far too tired, and our pantry too empty, for me to make dinner. We ate cold cereal that night and went to bed still feeling hungry.
But I promised, I’d make a curry dish to redeem myself from the dinner debacle. Besides, I had to get back on that horse, or risk never eating curry again. I called an Indian friend of mine, who’s a spectacular cook. She gave me some tips. The results were delicious… and spill free! Here’s my riff on her recipe.
Cauliflower & Lentil Curry
3 tablespoons grapeseed or algae oil (such as Thrive)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
¾ teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 green cardamom pods
2 teaspoons curry powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon ginger powder
Pinch of chili powder
1 cinnamon stick
1 head cauliflower
1 carrot, sliced
¼ cup roughly chopped dried apricots
2/3 cup (6 ounces) red lentils
2 ½ cups coconut milk
Salt to taste
1 bunch cilantro
¼ cup pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
Heat the oil in a large pot, over medium heat. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook for a minute, until fragrant. Add the onions and garlic and continue to cook, while stirring. Once the onions are translucent, add the rest of the spices. Add the cauliflower and carrots and stir to coat with the onion and spices. Add the apricots, lentils, coconut milk, and 2/3 cup (6 ounces) water. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables and lentils are tender. Toss in a handful of cilantro. Remove from the heat and allow the curry to sit for 5 minutes. Top with pistachios before serving.