Slow-Cooker Apple & Curry Lentils

I don't come from a very food adventurous family, so growing up, Panda Express was considered ethnic.  Things changed when I went back east for culinary school, and was with a community of people interested in anything and everything.  Early on, Indian food became ma thing.  I spent nearly every Sunday for 2 years having the best Indian buffet for lunch at a place close to our campus.  My friends Travis, Juliette and I were standing regulars, with many others (Hi Rachel and Cristine) joining us every so often. 

We'd get there right at noon as everything was just being put out because you kinda don't want Indian buffet that hasn't just been put out.  It was there where fresh naan, mango lassis, saag paneer, palak daal, gobhi aloo, chana masala, the best chai ever, and so much more became an important part of our lives.  Travie now lives in South Carolina, Hoo's in Oregon and whenever we see each other, we know what's for lunch. 

Indian cooking is actually quite methodical, and something I would really like to learn more about.  Anyone actually familiar with the nuances and techniques behind classic dishes would scoff at this recipe, so before we go there, this is my white girl daal creation.

Part of the idea behind slow-cookers are the ease they provide, so I created this with minimal prep.  The flavors here meld so well, and the spices are just enough to convert any curry skeptic.  Also, please please please serve this with a dollop of cashew cream.  It takes this to levels you didn't know existed.

Gah, food memories.

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Slow-Cooker Apple & Curry Lentils

INGREDIENTS: (makes 3.5 quarts)

  • 3 cups lentils (I used green)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 apples, roughly chopped (I used gala)
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 5 teaspoons curry powder
  • 5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Rinse lentils and remove any ugly pieces.  Place in the slow-cooker with the diced onion and minced garlic. 

In a blender, add the water, chopped apples, tomato paste, brown sugar, lemon juice, curry powder, salt, coriander and cayenne.  Blend until smooth; it’s ok if there are still some small apple pieces.

Add liquid to lentils and carefully mix everything to coat lentils evenly.

Place lid on and cook on high 5-7 hours.  Adjust consistency with additional water as needed.

Chef’s notes:
–Serve warm with basmati rice pilaf and cashew cream. 
–Very freezer friendly.

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