Clara’s Butternut, Cauliflower & Red Lentil Curry
This is Clara.
Clara and I know each other from studying in Amsterdam. We lived in student dorms and were practically neighbours. What do neighbours do? Correct, they eat together. In fact, they cook together. The wonderful, colourful, plentiful, only-good-things curry that Clara is cooking for us today originated right there: in the student dorms, during our weekly cooking sessions. Potluck dinners, is what we used to call them. A dinner where there is no fixed dish and no fixed ingredients, just a bunch of people who bring what they have: a salad, some bread, roasted vegetables, hummus to dip and a bottle of wine. Oh, and dark chocolate! Someone always (thankfully) happened to have dark chocolate. Whenever we met for a potluck dinner, it always turned out to be a can of coconut milk, half a pack of lentils, pumpkin, cauliflower, curry paste and ginger. What happened next? A curry happened, you got it!
Clara is a Berliner. But as so often, it is slightly more complicated than that. She lived in Berlin during her early childhood years but then moved to Finland and the US. There, she learned to live in different cultures, speak the language and eat the food. When living in Finland, her mom made it a tradition to go to the forest and pick fresh berries and chanterelles (just like Anna from last week!). Clara reports to me that Finish cuisine was very heavy on potatoes and oven bake type of dishes. One food take away that she still values today is her now go-to breakfast: you might have guessed it, we’re talking about porridge. In Finland, Clara’s family used to cook their warm bowl of porridge with some butter, jam and cinnamon. Doesn’t that sound comfortably delicious?
In the US, Clara had a different experience: she noticed that sitting down at the dinner table with her family was extraordinary compared to how other families handled the evening meal. Many parents would just run to Subway or other takeaways, get quick, greasy dinners for their children and let them eat while driving them back home. Everyone always seemed too busy to eat, Clara says. Her family always made it a priority to eat together, not only to spend time together but also to enjoy homecooked dishes instead of ready-meals.
Clara started cooking – truly cooking – when she moved to Amsterdam and lived by herself for the first time. All of the sudden she had to plan all her meals herself, do the groceries and make sure that as opposed to many other students, there wouldn’t be just pizza and ice cream in the freezer. She is vegan and a great way to avoid complicated menus (where beef broth is classified as vegetarian) is to cook at home. So that is what she does, cooking and baking and sharing it with her family and friends. She says that she doesn’t miss meat or dairy in the slightest and I completely get it every time I eat her creations because they are veganly, heavenly delicious!
This curry is a very diverse dish because many different ingredients work. Brokkoli, carrots and paprika? Great combo. Sweet potato, chickpeas and spinach? Perfect, chop it all up! Today, Clara had butternut squash, cauliflower, zucchini and red lentils to that is what she threw in the pot. Some basic ingredients stay the same such as onion, ginger, garlic, curry paste, spices and coconut milk. Other than that, you can do whatever you like!
Clara, the stage is yours, please show us how to do this! But first – tea time.
Okay, are we all ready for this?
Butternut, Cauliflower & Red Lentil Curry
For this recipe you will need:
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp of ginger, minced
1 tsp curcuma
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp fenugreek
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garam masala
½ butternut squash, cubed
½ cauliflower, chopped
1 zucchini, diced
¾ cup red lentils
2 cups hot water
1 can coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
parsley for garnish
- In a pot, heat the coconut oil and fry the garlic, onion and ginger. After 1-2 minutes, add a dash of water as well as the spices (curcuma, fenugreek, cumin, cayenne pepper, garam masala).
- Once the liquid has been absorbed, add the butternut squash cubes, cauliflower, zucchini and quickly fry them.
- Add the lentils and coconut milk and allow everything to get hot and bubbly.
- Add the water along with salt and pepper, cover with a lid and cook on medium heat for 30 minutes with occasional stirring.
- The curry is done when the lentils are soft and the consistency is thick and creamy.
- Serve while hot and garnish with freshly chopped parsley.
- Notice how this curry warms your entire body and eat with your eyes, your mind, your soul, your heart. ♥
After devouring Clara’s delicious curry, we took a stroll through the neighbouring forest to soak up some fresh autumn air. And what do we see as we leave the house? A blackberry bush! The single most sensible thing to do at this point is obviously to pick and eat them, so that is what we did! There’s even footage of me in the forest, which is a very rare case as I’m standing behind the camera 99% of the time. I am glad Clara took this photo because it perfectly sums up the contentment I felt in that very moment, with a warming curry in my belly and the forest trees in front, behind, next to and above me. (Did you find that last sentence cheesy? I promise that no cheese was involved – Clara is vegan, remember?)
Clara, I had a fantastic time with you. Thank you for your curry, your piano and for showing me your forest. I will come back for more (of all three)!