Has anyone ever gone to the store with a grocery list in hand and STILL forgotten to get one of the main ingredients to a dish you were going to make? Yeah, that is exactly what happened to me yesterday. So frustrating! I had gone to the store needing to pick a few staples and then chickpeas for a vegetarian and potato curry that was my original recipe idea for dinner last night. It wasn’t until I came back upstairs after a workout to make dinner that I realized my mistake. At 7:15 it was way to late to go to the store, come back home and still have dinner at a respectable time. Ugh.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person to do this and it probably won’t be the last time I do it or any of you do it either. So what do we do? Well, we all have to improvise in the best possible way. The chickpeas that I forgot were going to be my main protein source in the curry so I needed a replacement. The thought of only having potatoes and rice at dinner was magically making my waistline bigger. I went over to the pantry to see if maybe a can of chickpeas were hiding behind the kidney beans. As usual, no such luck. However, there was a bag of red lentils sitting right in front because of the chickpea and lentil veggie burger I made last week. Happy dance because the red lentils were a perfect substitution and quite possibly a better idea than the chickpeas. Problem solved.
Ok, so let’s say you find yourself in the same predicament as I was in and red lentils weren’t in your pantry? Well, you keep looking and thinking. What do we need? Protein. What are we making? Curry. Kidney or cannelini beans don’t really go with a curry even though they are beans. Quinoa? Maybe if you were going not going to serve over rice, but just make it a stew of sorts. So, we’ve got a maybe. Let’s move onto the freezer that I really hope is stocked with some veggies. One of the things that should be in there is a bag of frozen, chopped spinach or kale if you prefer. This would be a great replacement of the chickpeas in the curry. By weight, spinach has more protein than red meat and it’s everywhere in vegetarian Indian recipes. The spinach would have been my choice if I hadn’t had red lentils or lentils in my pantry. It’s a good fit.
What I’m trying to talk you through is my thinking process when it comes to improvising in the kitchen. There’s a problem, so instead of giving up you take the steps to solve it. In this case I no longer had a chickpea and potato Masala curry, but I did end up with an amazing vegan red lentil and potato curry recipe because I didn’t just throw my hands in the air and order a pizza.
So the next time you find yourself in kitchen ingredient predicament, start working the problem. If you can’t find the perfect replacement like lentils but you do have kidney beans, throw in the kidney beans before giving up. You don’t work in a restaurant with paying customers 😉
Couple things about this recipe I think I need to share. It’s super easy to make and takes 10 minutes to put together, but it does take some time to cook. So if you are lucky enough to come home after work before a run or the trainer, put this together before. The other thing is you might be wondering why the sweet potato and the white potato? Well, they have different flavors and they both bring their own nutrition to the dish. You could easily use just one kind if you like. I also would also bet you could put this in a slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours.
Related Recipe: Spicy Coconut Cauliflower Curry
Vegan Red Lentil and Potato Curry
- 1 small red potato
- 1 small Idaho potato
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 small yellow onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 thumb size piece of ginger
- 1 serrano pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
- 1 28-ounce can of fire roasted, chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup of coconut milk (you could use more if you like)
- 2 tablespoons Madras curry (you can use whatever you have too)
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground tumeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- pinch of sugar (optional)
- 4 cups cooked basmati rice
- Heat a large pot to medium heat with either the olive oil or coconut oil.
- While it's heating, start dicing the onion. Throw it in and season with a pinch of salt. Stire. Then mince the ginger, garlic and serrano pepper. Set aside. Start dicing the potatoes. The smaller they, the faster it will cook. Check the onions and stir a bit more. Once translucent, add in the garlic, pepper and ginger. Season with a pinch of salt and all the other spices. Saute until well coated. Add in the potatoes. Season again with some salt and a pinch of all the other spices. Saute for about 5 minutes.
- Add in the tomatoes, coconut milk and lentils. Season with more salt and spices. The spices should be pretty much done. Bring to a rough boil, cover and turn the heat down to simmer. If you can, stir it at times to keep it from sticking too much on the bottom. You'll also want to taste along the way to see if needs a pinch of something else.
- After 30-40 minutes. It should be pretty close to done. It's mostly dependent on how big you cut up the potatoes.
- Once it's done, serve over some basmati rice and garnish with cilantro.
High Fiber, Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Egg Free, Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Soy Free, Fish Free, Shellfish Free, Pork Free, Red Meat Free, Alcohol Free, Kosher