Last week was Thanksgiving, which means it’s officially the holiday season. I have mixed feelings about this, and a few rants come to mind. I will share a few, just so you can see what’s running through my crazy mind. There’s the “are we really playing Christmas music in November” one, and the “I will be spending half my life in traffic since I live by the mall” one. I will discuss those at a later time….or not 🙂 For now, I will focus on the issue at hand. Christmas is a month away, and I have decided that despite the fact that it is the time for parties and all things food… I would like to be a few pounds lighter for Christmas. That being said, sensible meals are now gracing our table. The good news is, healthy does not have to be bland. I was looking for a way to make use of some lentils that have been sitting in my pantry for a few months now. I was trying to think up a tasty meatless meal that would win over my meat loving family. (Last week, we had a big HONKING ham that we re-purposed for days, and we are definitely in need of some meatless meals to compensate). This recipe kind of evolved as I was cooking, so I apologize for the lack of step by step pictures. I had not planned on using the coconut milk, but when I got to the end and tasted it, it was OK… but something was missing. I found a can of Coconut milk in the pantry and figured it couldn’t hurt. JACKPOT! It totally transformed it. That and the cilantro at the end are key.
Just a few thoughts before we begin. First, I added about a 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper. I could have done with more since my kids are OK with spice. It wasn’t overly spicy, so if you like spicier food, add more. You could also leave it out all together. The other thing to mention is that I used chicken broth. To make it truly vegetarian, you could use vegetable broth. If you have no broth, just dissolve some bouillon cubes in water. The last thing is the cooking time for the lentils. I cooked mine for an hour after adding them into the pot, and stirred them every few minutes since I wanted them to have some bite to them, not totally mushy. I started with 4 cups of broth and in the last 15 minutes added about another 1/2 cup as needed. I didn’t want to have too much liquid in them.
Let’s get started on these lentils. They are tasty and comforting, and perfect for a cold day. They definitely will not be winning any “best looking dish” award, but trust me… the flavor by far makes up for that. It’s a big plus that they are high on the nutrition scale. I served mine with some homemade wheat chapatis (an Indian flat bread), but rice would go really well with this dish too. Here we go!
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
2 Stalks Celery, diced
2 large Carrots, diced
1 Green Pepper, diced
2 Large Tomatoes, diced
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Ginger root, grated
3 tsp Curry Powder
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
11/2 tsp Salt
1 Pound Green Lentils, washed and rinsed (about 2 Cups)
5 Cups Chicken Broth (plus more if needed)
1 Bay Leaf
1 (13.5 oz) Can Coconut Milk (about 11/2 cups) You can use Fat Free
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
1. In a pot over medium high heat, heat the olive oil and add the onion, celery, carrots and green peppers. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until veggies start to soften up. Add in the tomatoes and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute stirring constantly. Add in the curry powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne and salt. Stir and cook for about 3 minutes to allow the spices to start to smell nice and fragrant.
2. Now add in the lentils, broth and the bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
3.At the very end, once the lentils are to the desired softness (add more broth if needed during the cooking process), add in the coconut milk and the cilantro, and cook for a minute. Taste for salt. Depending on the salt content in your broth, you may need more salt. Discard the bay leaf.
Serve with Chapatis (or naan), rice or a toasty slice of bread. Enjoy!
Devotion For The Day:
My devotion reading today was from John 11, on the death of Lazarus. It is a story we have all heard before, so I will just highlight the parts of the story that really jumped out at me today. I remember in Sunday School having memory verse competitions, and one of the top 5 quoted verses was always John 11: 35, Jesus wept. I knew the verse, but I could not have told you the context of the verse. I had no idea why he wept. Well… Jesus was a good friend of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. Jesus received word that Lazarus was gravely ill, but he did not go to see him then, he waited a two days before he returned to Judea. By this point, he already knew that Lazarus was dead.
First Martha, then Mary run to meet Jesus before he reached the village. They both had the same thing to say to Jesus. Verse 21 and 32: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died”. Jesus response to the grieving family and friends is what was most striking to me today. Verse 33-35: When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord”, they replied. Jesus wept. We know the rest of the story.. Jesus went to the tomb, asked Lazarus to rise up, and he raised from the dead. He had been dead 4 days.
What struck me the most was thinking about WHY Jesus wept. The sisters and the crowd were weeping because of the sadness that they felt because they had lost a beloved brother or friend. Even though Jesus loved Lazarus, he already knew that he was going to raise him from the dead. It was why he waited to come until Lazarus was already dead and buried (read Verse 4). He knew that he would raise him from the dead so that the people seeing would believe in him, and so that it would glorify God. The reason he wept was one that I had not understood. Simply, it was COMPASSION. He saw the deep sadness of the people, and he was moved. Jesus, who was all knowing and knew how this would end was still moved by the suffering of his friends, to the point that he wept.
It really encourages me today, and I hope it encourages you. The same Jesus who wept for his friends more than 2,000 years ago is still the same Jesus I know and love today.I’m humbled and encouraged to know that when I approach God’s Throne in my weakness, Jesus my intercessor is filled with compassion. He sees our deepest feelings, and he understands them. How amazing is that!