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Lentil Curry

Spoonful of curry over our notes from Udaipur

For Diwali, I decided to put the spices I picked up at the Bastille market to good use. I bought six different types of spices, plus dried lentils and chickpeas, on the weekend. The man scooping up the spices for me was hilarious in a please-let-me-just-buy-what-I-want sort of way. He had a lot of input on what I was buying, even though I told him they’re not all for the same recipe, and he kept on trying to sell me the generic “curry” spice when I said I wanted to make a curry. Also, the French are absolute wimps when it comes to spice. I got piment fort and the spice man looked impressed, and after a generous teaspoon I can’t say it brought any heat to our curry. Bah.

I also saw this idea on a different blog one day and decided to try it myself: I documented the cooking process with my iPhone/Insta.gram, and the pictures look so much better than if I had tried to style the food!

Enjoy the picture tutorial with the recipe for Indian masala from our cooking class in Udaipur earlier this year.


  1. Grind up half of an onion (or a shallot) with a knob of ginger and a garlic clove or two in a mortar and pestle. You can use a blender if you want, but the flavours aren’t quite the same. You can also do what I did: put in Ziploc, wrap between tea towel, and beat with a rolling pin.
  2. In a pot, heat up oil and fry up the other half of the onion, diced, with 2 tsp. of cumin seeds.
  3. Add in the paste when your onions are cooked to translucent. Add in 1 tsp. each of coriander powder and turmeric, and cayenne or something spicy and salt to taste. If you have garam masala, throw a dash of that in, too. I didn’t, and my curry worked out fine.
  4. When it gets quite paste-y and the onions are cooked through, add in 1/2 cup of water. Stir. Bring to a boil, and then reduce until you see some of the oil come through the liquid.
  5. Chop up some tomatoes (3 roma tomatoes for me) and throw them in. Bring to a boil, then simmer for at least 20 minutes.
  6. In the mean time, prepare your lentils by cooking them in water until just done, and drain into curry sauce. Let simmer together for another 20 minutes or so, longer if you have the time and patience. Serve with rice or naan.

Note: you may need to add more liquid to your sauce as it cooks, depending on the time and heat you cook at. Adjust as you see fit – some people like a watery sauce, some like a thick sauce.

Happy (belated) Diwali!

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