Although since leaving Vietnam, all of what I’ve been wanting to eat is Vietnamese, I have to admit that I actually do miss eating beans. We had mung beans in various forms in Vietnam, as they are heavily used in the cuisine in popular dishes like banh xeo and che, but given the frigid temperatures we’ve been experiencing here in New York, what I’ve been thinking about the last few days has been dal, or lentils. Chris usually hates on vegetarian food, but he doesn’t complain when I make things like dal, maybe because he grew up eating that, and well, Indians make sure their beans are extremely flavorful and tasty because of all the different spices and chilies they put in them. Dal is usually on Indian dinner tables nightly, and I can see why — they are wholesome, extremely nutritious, flavorful once spiced, and quick to prepare and cook. Lentils are probably the most nutrient-dense food on earth, especially given that they are pretty much smaller than tear drops!
So this weekend, I used a new recipe by a modern Indian-American cook for Sri Lankan-style dal with coconut and lime kale. Sri Lankan spices tend to mirror South Indian spices given their proximity to that part of Asia, so they similarly use a lot of coconut, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and chilies. The dal, once simmered, is finished with a bit of coconut milk to give it richness, and also a quick stir-fry of kale with shredded coconut and spices for additional texture and of course, vegetables. It definitely satisfied my lentils craving. I plan on making more lentils this winter to keep warm and toasty.