May 3, 2015

Kid Curry with Chicken and Red Lentils

"I mean, Indian food IS kid food," I say, leaning into the sink after dinner, scrubbing a rind of curry from my favorite pot.

Scott nods. "1.2 billion Indians can't be wrong." We've had this conversation before, the one about how it's normal and important and totally not torture to serve kids diverse and boldly-flavored foods. We're the preacher and the choir. 

Darwin appears destined from the womb to love macaroni and cheese. But that doesn't mean he, like all kids, can't surprise us with preferences for more complex flavors. At lunch today, I mistakenly failed to offer him some of my latest batch of Nourished Kitchen's Hot Pink Jalapeno Garlic Kraut. He finally asked for some, and ate two servings! Kid showed me. Case two: Darwin's baby sister, who thinks sweet potato is some variety of Buttered Death, will tackle a spoon loaded up with this curry.

There is a definite down-the-rabbit-hole quality to feeding kids, and that's not a bad thing; it means it's worth taking risks. It means you're allowed, no, practically obligated to occasionally throw open the doors of the spice cabinet, and declare it Curry Night.

Next time you do, try this rich and beautifully-colored stew. Spiced but not spicy, it warms little bellies with tender chicken and vegetables, two hearty legumes, and more protein than you can shake a spoon at. Give it a go, even if someone in your house is likely to ask, "what's curry?" (Answer: family food from across the world!) Ladle it over brown rice with a dollop of plain yogurt and see who bites.


Kid Curry with Chicken and Red Lentils
Serves 4-6

1 cup dry red lentils, rinsed and drained
1.5 cups cooked chickpeas (or one can chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
1 cup cooked shredded chicken
1 small sweet onion
2 carrots, peeled and chopped small
1 cup cauliflower, chopped small
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. freshly-grated ginger
3 Tbls. tomato paste
1 tsp. ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp. ground cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbls. extra virgin olive oil
juice from 1/2 a lemon
whole plain yogurt, for garnish
cooked brown rice for serving (optional)

In a heavy, 5-quart pot over medium heat, fry onions, carrots, and cauliflower in olive oil until softening and translucent, about ten minutes.

Add garlic, ginger, and dry spices, and fry one minute longer.

Add red lentils, chicken, chickpeas, tomato paste, and salt, plus 3.5 cups water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are completely softened and the stew has thickened, about 20 minutes.

Remove curry from the heat, and stir in fresh lemon juice.

Ladle over brown rice (if using) and top each serving with a dollop of yogurt.

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