I am really excited to share this spring curry with you because not only is it a delicious and easy-to-make one-pot meal any night of the week, but it also manages to bring together spring's best offerings in one dish. Spring feels like a fleeting season to me so I'm always anxious to find as many ways to embrace its delicacies that are rhubarb and asparagus. Rhubarb is in fact a vegetable, and a tart one at that. And while I love it in a crumble or cake, I wanted to work with its tartness this time rather than compete against it. And it just so happens to be quite a natural pairing with curry, as it provides the perfect counter to the sweet coconut milk. However, if rhubarb is not in season where you live, a tart green apple would be a good substitute.
This curry while substantial with red lentils and tofu, also emulates springtime with a fragrant freshness and gentler flavor. I don't use tofu often, but its silky, delicate texture was the perfect addition here. It really shines in this dish, so try to use the freshest, best quality tofu available. And the quick-pickled radishes are not to be overlooked. They bring the whole dish together, providing crunch and a sweet-tart contrast. Quick-pickled vegetables in general are a condiment I love to keep in my fridge because they provide a fresh zing that benefits so many dishes. After finishing the pickled radishes I had leftover pickling juice to which I added thinly sliced cucumber and continued using in the same way, not only to top this curry but also to top beet burgers and a rice bowl.
A Spring Lentil Curry with Quick Pickled Radishes
Notes: If rhubarb is not in season, substitute with 1 large tart green apple, peeled. If asparagus is not in season, substitute with 1 head broccoli and/or dark leafy greens such as Swiss chard or spinach.
- Generous knob of cold-pressed coconut oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 red chili
- 2 inch piece ginger, skin removed
- 1 small bunch cilantro
- 1 1/3 cups (255 gr) red lentils, rinsed and drained
- 6 cups (1 liter + 450 ml) water
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 stalks rhubarb
- 2 cups (500 ml) coconut milk
- 1 bunch asparagus, woody stems discarded and cut on a diagonal
- 2 cups (240 gr) frozen peas, defrosted
- 200 gr. firm tofu, cubed (preferably organic, non-GMO)
- Cooked brown or basmati rice
- Roasted cashews
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Red chili
- Quick Pickled Radishes (recipe below)
- On a big cutting board prepare aromatics. Mince garlic and ginger, slice chili into thin rounds, and finely chop tender stems from a whole bunch of cilantro, setting aside the cilantro leaves to garnish individual bowls at the end.
- Heat coconut oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add aromatics and a pinch of salt, saute for a few minutes until fragrant.
- Add lentils, water, and salt. Cover, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to simmer. While water is coming to a boil, prepare rhubarb like you would celery. Trim ends and remove any tough thick strings the length of the stalk. Dice rhubarb and add to pot.
- Cook for 20 minutes, covered, until lentils and rhubarb are soft and soup has thickened, adding coconut milk a little at a time as more liquid is required.
- After 20 minutes add remaining coconut milk, asparagus, peas, and tofu. Re-cover and cook another 5 minutes, or until asparagus is just tender. Be careful to not overcook asparagus.
- Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- Serve over rice and top with cashews, cilantro, chili, and pickled radishes.
Quick Pickled Radishes
- 1/4 cup/60 ml lime juice (~1 juicy lime)
- 1/4 cup/60 ml apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. maple syrup (or natural, unrefined cane sugar/muscovado)
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 14 radishes (or 2 small bunches), thinly sliced
- Add all ingredients, except for radishes, to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir to make sure syrup or sugar is dissolved, then remove from heat.
- Add radishes to vinegar mixture, making sure they are submerged in the liquid, and set aside to cool completely. Transfer radishes and liquid to a glass jar with a screw-on lid; use immediately or store in the fridge.