I used to hate vegetarian food to the point that I would be really upset when I had to be in all-vegetarian restaurants. Meat was such a big part of the food I grew up eating. I thought a meal without animal proteins was incomplete and unfulfilled. Living in India has changed my perspective about food, and I gradually came out of my shell and started enjoying food regardless of what it lacks. Now for me, good food is beyond what is on a plate but the experience, the journey, the story, and what it can potentially do to your body.
I often tell people that India is the Food Paradise for vegetarians. While vegetarian food options in many other places around the world can be restrictive, here you get colorful varieties of vegetarian food as the staple. Vegetarian food here is simple and divine. In fact, a lot of breakfast food here is vegetarian. In the place I live, Indian breakfast is mainly vegetarian. I have grown to liking everything about it, and especially I love what it does to my health.
I have to admit vegetarian food feels good in the stomach. It’s light and easy to digest. These days I’m incorporating more vegetarian and plant based diet into my table. I enjoy exploring new vegetarian dishes which have heavenly blend of spices in them. I love food, and I want to eat what I want, but more importantly, I love my body. So, I am cautious in balancing healthy food with indulging choices.
Dal or Split Lentil Stew is a nourishing dish usually served with rice. There are many ways to prepare it depending on the type of spices and additional ingredients in the dals. Here is one of my favorite dishes because it’s loaded with the velvety green kales and sweet carrots. It’s perfect with rice. There is something very satisfying about watching the lentil stew melt into the bed of rice while the steams fume from the plate like the erupting volcano. It’s a simple and luxurious at the same time, delicious and healthy in one dish. The best part is it’s really good for health.
Spit Lentil and Kale Stew
1 cup split lentil
2 small carrots- cut into medium chunks
1 onion- sliced
2 tomato- sliced
A big bunch of kales- roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp fenugreek seed
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 fresh green chili- cut lengthwise
1 tsp salt or to taste
2 tsp vegetable oil
In a pressure cooker, cook split lentil and carrot with about 3 cups of water and salt for 15 minutes. The lentil should be very soft and almost melted at this point. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, soak the lentil over night and cook in the pot until the lentil is soft.
In medium sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent.
Add turmeric powder, fenugreek seed, green chili, garlic and tomato. Stir and cook further until the tomato is soft.
Add cooked lentil and carrot, stir well, and bring to boil.
Add kale and let it simmer for a minute or until the kale is cooked and tender.
Check the seasoning, turn off the heat and serve hot with some rice.