Henry and I took our first trip to the Spice House in Evanston last weekend, and had ourselves a little shopping spree.
I was in the market for a hot curry powder, but mainly I wanted us to browse and explore, to get inspired in the same way you get inspired in an art-supply store, and to remember that shopping for food need not always be an exhausting rush through the store, chucking the same old things into a cart. Shopping for food can be a delight.
Shopping at the Spice House was a total delight. It smells amazing, they have free samples of candied ginger (Henry's favorite), and just being there was inspiring in exactly the way I'd hoped it would be. Those overflowing shelves of herbs and spices would make anybody want to rush home and rustle something up.
I found my hot curry powder, but we also nabbed some Himalayan Pink Salt (not sure what to do with it, but it is so pretty), double-strength vanilla ("favored by bakers") and bright red paprika, smoked AND hot, how could I resist?
Here's the thing we rushed home and rustled up. I'd made a batch of Red Lentil and Cauliflower Curry earlier in the week, using spices from the supermarket, and it was good, but our freshly ground, expertly blended curry powder pushed it right over the top.
Red Lentil and Cauliflower Curry
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
1 tablespoon hot curry powder
1/2 cup dried red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 cup water
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
5-6 ounces fresh spinach, washed and chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
optional: coriander, parsley, or additional spinach to garnish
Heat coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, and curry powder and stir constantly for 1 minute. Pay attention - you don't want the garlic to brown and you don't want the curry powder to burn.
Add lentils and water, turn heat up to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes.
Add cauliflower, carrots, and coconut milk, bring back to a gentle simmer, and cook covered over medium-low heat, 10-15 more minutes, until vegetables are tender.
Add spinach and salt and cook, stirring, 3-4 minutes, until spinach is wilted and bright green.
Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice, taste and adjust seasoning, and serve hot with optional garnish.
Would be nice on basmati rice, but we ate it on its own out of bowls and it was totally satisfying.