Warming Stir Fry with Sprouted Lentils

It’s that time of year! Evil flu strains that have managed to escape the clutches of the flu shot are invading our immune system and making us feel lousy. To help a beloved afflicted person, I made this for lunch. It’s warming and nutritious, and yet light, so as not to encumber a system already busy fighting viruses. The innovation here is that, in lieu of a cooked grain or bean, I’m just very lightly warming sprouted lentils. It keeps them fresh and springy to the taste.

The day before making this dish, you’ll have to sprout the lentils, which is very easy – simply place a cup and a half or so of lentils in a bowl and cover with fresh water. Change the water after a few hours, and then change it again in the morning. You’ll even see little tails beginning to form! Drain the sprouted lentils and set aside.

Now, to the main show:

3 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 inch ginger, minced
1 cup water + 1 tbsp veggie bouillon or dried vegetable powder or 1 cup vegetable broth
1 large carrot or two or three small ones, cut into thin rings
5 large shiitake mushrooms, sliced (if using dried ones, soak them in some warm water before cooking)
3 cups of green vegetables (I used about 8 heads of baby bok choy and about four leaves of dino kale)
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ginger powder
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
2-3 cups lentil sprouts

Place garlic and ginger in a wok and add about 3 tablespoons of the broth. Turn on the heat and swish around, until the garlic and ginger are aromatic. Then, add the carrots, and cook for another couple of minutes, adding 1-2 more tablespoons of the broth. Then, add the mushrooms and continue cooking; add about half of the soy sauce. Add the greens and cook for about 5-6 minutes, adding broth whenever the bottom of the wok dries up and stirring as you go. When the greens begin to wilt, add the tomatoes, cumin, ginger, and continue cooking a couple of minutes until the tomatoes soften. Finally, add the sprouts and the remainder of the broth and the soy sauce. Stir-fry everything together for a few minutes, until the sprouts are warm, but before they become mushy. Serve warm.

Note: I didn’t serve this with a side of tahini, but I bet it would be a blast.

Book Recommendation: Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen

Indian food! Delicious, complex, labor intensive… I adore it. Indian restaurants are among the few I still frequent, because it is difficult to replicate the textures and tastes at home. But Richa Hingle’s wonderful book and its companion website are true game changers.

With crystal-clear, detailed explanations, careful seasoning, and creative ingredient list, Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen is an invaluable contribution to our cookbook shelf. It occupies the necessary gap between vanity vegan books, which show pretty but unrealistic concoctions, and basic vegan books, with recipes I already know how to make.

Yesterday we made two of her recipes – palak paneer, which features homemade almond paneer in a rich spinach sauce, and malai kofta, in which the lovely dumpling balls are made of cabbage, cashew, and chickpea flour and cooked in savory tomato sauce. What an incredible meal! Making the paneer and the kofta is very labor intensive, but also intriguing, and the result is impeccable in taste and texture.

Geared toward folks who are not proficient in traditional Indian cooking, and yet not oversimplified, the book empowers us to venture beyond our comfort zone and dare to cook authentic meals with authentic spices. I highly recommend it!