Sambar with Kale
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 dried whole chili peppers
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon asafoetida
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) can light coconut milk
6 to 8 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 to 2 bunches kale, torn and washed
2 tablespoons curry powder or sambar powder if you can find it
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. In a wide, deep skillet over low-medium heat, heat olive oil. Add and evenly distribute the chili peppers, mustard seeds, and asafoetida. Cover once the mustard seeds start to pop. When the popping slows, uncover and throw on enough of the chopped onion to cool it down. Add the garlic; cook until it starts to brown. Stir in remaining onion; cook until soft and translucent. Stir and add more oil if needed.
2. Add coconut milk, tomatoes, and lentils; stir. Add enough water to cover all the ingredients, plus 1/4-inch or so. Turn up the heat to a medium flame and bring it to a steady simmer; cook until the lentils get soft. Stir frequently to keep the lentils from sticking to the bottom.
3. In a separate pot, steam the carrots and kale. You can steam them both in the same pot if you give the carrots a few minutes head start. Set those veggies aside.
4. To the lentil mixture, add the spices (curry powder, cumin, ginger, turmeric, and salt). The measurements I listed are conservative; taste-test to judge for yourself if more is needed.
5. After 20 minutes or so, the stew becomes thick. When you’re happy with the consistency, turn off the heat and mix in the kale and carrots.
Source of recipe: A friend turned me on to the goodness of lentils a few years ago. This is my version of his recipe for a hearty South Indian-flavored stew.