To be completely correct, this is a kale-potato-lentil-coconut curry, but going down that path will only result in a recipe-length name, so let’s just call it kale curry for simplicity. Since a lot of new stuff is happening around here (did I tell you that I am finishing my Ph.D. in May and moving to Boston in August and starting a new job in September?), I thought it might be fun to cook with and post about ingredients relatively new to me. So, first up is kale.
For those of you who don’t know kale, it is a leafy vegetable from the cabbage family. It has very thick leaves and comes in a few different colors and varieties – purple kale, black kale, curly kale etc etc. Like all other leafy greens, it is extremely nutritious. For example, it is super-rich in Vitamin A, C, K, and Calcium. Basically, eat LOTS of it.
I became acquainted with kale not too long ago. Mostly I use it as I would use spinach. I add it to dals, pastas, soups, and sometimes simply saute it with garlic and red pepper flakes to make a quick side. It can be eaten raw as a salad, but you’ll first need to massage the chopped leaves with a little oil and lemon juice to tenderize them. And apparently, you can also make kale chips by baking the leaves in the oven – I haven’t tried that yet.
But tonight I wanted to do something different with the bunch of kale that had been lying around in my fridge for a few days. I looked at the Yukon Gold potato sitting right next to it and thought of aloo-palak (a dry potato and spinach curry). That didn’t seem like a very exciting idea since I was in the mood for something coconut-y (I am always in the mood for something coconut-y). Coconut and potatoes led me to Kerala potato stew, which in turn led me to hot appams, but I quickly stopped that trail of thought from going out of hand and forced my attention back to the kale. I had also been reading about a lentil and coconut milk preparation in my beloved cookbook, The Suriani Kitchen. Luckily, all these thoughts came together and I decided to make a kale-potato-lentil-coconut curry.
Other than a couple of whole red chillies in the tempering, the only other spices you need are turmeric powder and black mustard seeds. The end result is a light and perfectly soothing dish!
1 bunch of kale, chopped
1 large potato, chopped into thick cubes
Approx 1/3 cup of red lentils or masoor dal (washed)
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 can of first-pressed coconut milk (400 ml)
Ginger, 1-inch piece, finely chopped
Turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon
Black mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon
Whole dry red chillies, 2
Oil, 1 tablespoon
Salt, to taste
+ Open the can of coconut milk & separate the top layer of thick milk.
+ In a large pot, dilute the remaining thin coconut milk with 2-3 cups of water.
+ Add the lentils, potato, onions, and ginger to the pot and mix in the turmeric and salt (if you like, you can also add some fresh curry leaves and green chillies).
+ Put on a lid and boil this mixture until the lentils and potato are almost cooked but not completely done.
+ Add the chopped kale to the pot and cook uncovered for another 4-5 minutes or until the kale is cooked.
+ Turn off the stove, add the thick coconut milk to the pot, and stir to combine.
+ Prepare the tempering in a small frying pan by first heating the oil and then adding the mustard seeds and the dry chillies.
+ Allow the mustard seeds to splutter and turn off the stove.
+ Add the tempering to the coconut curry.
+ Adjust the salt and you are ready to rock-and-roll with some kale curry and rice.