Eleven days into the new year, and how is everyone doing? Apart from the clothes fitting noticeably tighter than perhaps a month ago, things are swell here. I also just got back from Toronto, where I was fortunate to meet up with old friends and pretty much eat all the things. If you were following me on Instagram, you probably saw the divine burger from Burger's Priest, or the crispy chicken bun from Momofuku, or my first ever Krispy Kreme doughnut. I totally wasn't messing around. Then there was the fantastic private lunch with Chef Michael Smith and a handful of other Canadian food bloggers at the beautiful Fairmont Royal York. We enjoyed a bit of a tapas menu featuring pulses - lentils, chickpeas, dry peas and beans - and one day I hope to recreate a chickpea beignet like the one I tasted there. So good. Then there was Pulse Feast, a party to kick off International Year of Pulses. I mingled with pulse growers from the prairies, other food media and chefs. It was a grand time, full of inspiring conversation and fantastic food, featuring pulses of course. I swear there was a platter of lentil fritters following me around all night. Sweets! I can't escape them!
A beautiful mural at the Pulse party, with giant sacks of lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas
for us to take home and cook with.
While at the party, we were encouraged to take the Pulse Pledge. All you have to do is go to pulsepledge.com and commit to eating pulses just once a week for ten weeks. Once a week! That's it, that's all. I think they are the primary source of protein in my house, just because they are terribly affordable and versatile. Looking at the meat counter, the prices frighten me, and thanks to the horrible Canadian dollar, Canadians are going to be paying a lot more for groceries this year. Just a little FYI, a 900g bag of green lentils cost me $3.00. I'd be paying at least 5 times that for a roasting chicken, and 10 times that for a beef roast. I love chicken and beef, I just can't always afford it. Not only are pulses budget friendly, they're also terribly versatile and nutritious. Packed with protein and fibre, as well as anti-oxidants and minerals, they pretty much end up tasting like whatever delicious things you cook them with. Think Mexican, Indian, Italian, Persian, Ethiopian. The globe is the limit!
You may have noticed that I have a long-standing crush with the powerful pulse. This curry is one of my most popular posts EVER, and deservedly so. Winter calls for Shepherd's Pie, and this one is super good. Lentils love bacon and fried eggs, and this salad is killer. Another variation has mushrooms, as well as bacon and eggs. I detect a theme! There is a curried cauliflower soup, braised white beans with leeks and bacon, a bison and bean stew and my favourite quick cassoulet with sausage and white beans. White bean soup, and a delicious black bean chili with chocolate and chipotle are also two popular posts. There is plenty of inspiration out there. Check lentils.ca for more ideas. My friend Aimée also shared some recipe links on her site. Julie, too, always has great things in the way of pulse recipes on her blog. Be sure to take a look! Even my mom and sister are calling and telling me what pulse recipes they're into. Big hugs to Lorna and Juanita!
I guess I should spill the beans about this curry. It's fantastic. Aromatic and a little spicy, it's totally healthy for you too, with kale and sweet potatoes along for the ride. I added loads of ginger and garlic, and all of those lovely Indian spices. The ingredient list may be long, but feel free to swap something out to make it your own. The butter swirl at the end lends a luxuriousness to the dish, and I was happy scooping this up with toasted Naan bread, but piled atop steamed brown rice would be a great idea too. Lentils and chickpeas are the pulses I had on hand, but feel free to use black lentils or adzuki beans, and swap in other vegetables for the kale and sweet potato. I would have liked to have used cauliflower, but the price of that is another horror story. Sorry, but not going to pay over $6/head. I'm a girl on a budget!
Chickpea and Lentil Curry with Kale and Sweet Potatoes
3 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp ginger, minced
2 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp EACH ground cumin, coriander, cardamom and red pepper flakes
1 tsp EACH sweet paprika and chili powder
1 bay leaf
1 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
4 cups diced sweet potato
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
3 cups water
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 cup dry whole green lentils, rinsed
1 540 ml can chickpeas, rinsed
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp butter
2 cups chopped kale, packed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic and ginger and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in all of the spices, and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the sweet potato and stir to coat. Add the diced tomatoes, water, tomato paste, lentils and chickpeas. Stir well, scraping up the brown bits from bottom of pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the lentils are soft. Stir in the honey, butter, kale and cilantro. Cook just until the kale is soft. Season well with salt and pepper. Serve with steamed brown rice and/or toasted Naan bread. Makes about 6-8 servings.