Quinoa and Red Lentil Kitchari
A week ago was the big move. From condo to house. You wouldn’t believe how much can accumulate in a 1 bedroom apartment, especially when you have a fondness for cookbooks and dried beans. All my houseplants don’t make it that easy to move, either, but I was incredibly grateful for everyone’s help to move us into our new place.
When helping with a move, there are ways to help even if you don’t have lots of muscle power (like me!). My mom, even though she can pump more weight than me by far, so thoughtfully, offered to help by making a veritable feast for everyone helping with the move. Everyone raved about the Mango BBQ Beans which were better this time with black eyed peas, and as usual my mom made a nice buttermilk-based coleslaw from America’s Test Kitchens, our family French Potato Salad, hummus with hamburgers and sausages for the carnivores. As a forward-thinker, she made tons of food so there were leftovers. This way, Rob and I didn’t have to think about making food for a while. And feed our friends both lunch and dinner, since it took that long to help us move.
Once all the boxes were moved in, we made sure we had a bed with sheets so we could crash that night. My next priority room was the kitchen (it took 5 days for me to hook my laptop to the internet!). While pantry items are still all over the place in unpacked boxes, the major appliances, knives, cutlery, plates, spices, etc, have all found a place in the kitchen. I could wiggle my way around the kitchen by the end of the weekend which felt great.
The first meal I made in our new home was this Quinoa and Red Lentil Kitchari, adapted from The 30-Minute Vegan. I wanted something quick, tasty and healthy. This is an endlessly variable recipe, throwing in your favourite vegetables, mixing up the herbs, swapping the miso and ginger for lime juice or toasted sesame oil.
Kitchari, according to Reinfeld, is a healing meal according to Ayurveda, a traditional medicine from India. At its core, it is a mixture of two grains, in this case quinoa and red lentils, which both cook up quickly. Other recipes use mung beans and basmati rice with more traditional Indian flavours, but really anything goes.
This was a simple porridge-type stew, like a lentil-based dal with crunchy quinoa. Not only was this a great dish to eat, it was simple to prepare without too much fuss. I could throw in any vegetable and work with the herbs in the garden, and the items I still had left in my fridge. In this version, you have great texture from the cabbage and colour from the carrots. We debated which flavour was more pronounced, but I thought the dill worked great with the hint of miso. My friend thought ginger was more prominent. In any case, we all enjoyed it.
When life seems to be so chaotic, it was great to come back to eat this and bring me back to some peace. I just haven’t figured out the best place to photograph my meals in the new house! The scourge of an East-facing kitchen.
Quinoa and Red Lentil Kitchari
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed
5 cups water
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
250g cabbage, finely sliced or grated (2 cups)
250g carrot, chopped into small pieces (5 small carrots, or 1.5 cups)
1 tbsp miso
1/4 cup minced fresh dill (choose your favourite herb- basil, cilantro, parsley)
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Place quinoa, red lentils, onion, garlic and water in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Cover. After 10 minutes, add in cabbage and carrot and continue to cook, covered, until the liquid is absorbed, around 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The consistency should be slightly liquidy, so add more water if necessary.
2. Remove around 1/2 cup of liquid into a cup and mix in miso until it dissolves. Return to pot. Stir in dill, ginger and soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.