By Lindsey Proctor, Contributing Writer
What’s your most favorite food in all the world? I always had such a hard time answering this question, until one day I was discussing it with a co-worker, and she rephrased the question this way – “When you’ve had a hard day, what’s the thing that you want to go home and eat? What’s your comfort food?” and I thought for a moment and answered “I do believe that would be curry.” I love the simplicity and ease of making it, the distinct spicy flavors, and the warmth that comes with it.
These curried lentils have all of those qualities – spicy, unique Indian flavors tempered with some creamy coconut milk, ease of preparation, and the ability to warm and comfort you on a chilly day, plus the added benefits of being quite nutritious! Dr. Weston Price considered lentils the most nutritious legume, and they are high in calcium, potassium, zinc, iron, and B vitamins.* They don’t have a lot of flavor on their own, which makes them great for dishes such as this because they take on the flavors of the other ingredients and seasonings you add to the dish. After a short soaking period to neutralize the phytic acid, (so plan ahead) lentils pack a lot of nutrition at little cost.
And little cost is what we’re looking for! When Kimi asked us to come up with a recipe for October that cost no more (or not much more!) than $1.00 per serving for the Healthy $1 Menu, my mind automatically went to the standard frugal staples – beans and rice. I knew I needed something with lots of flavor and spices to take it from boring to interesting, and curry was a natural choice for me. The two apples sitting on the counter were a last-minute addition, and I’m glad I added them, because, along with the onions, they add good texture to the dish.
Here’s the cost breakdown for each ingredient, total ingredient cost, and the total cost per serving. All prices are taken from a nation-wide department store chain – the blue one. 😉
Lentils – 1 1/4 cups (8.5 oz) dry lentils = $0.60 ($1.12 / lb)
Jasmine Rice – 2 cups (14.4 oz) uncooked rice = $1.00 ($1.14 / lb)
Apples – 1/2 lb (2 medium) apples = $0.75 ($1.50 / lb)
Onion – 1/2 lb (1 med-large) onion = $0.50 ($0.98 / lb)
Coconut Milk – 1 cup (a little over half a can) = $1.07 ($2.14 / 14 fl oz can) (or you can make your own for even less!)
Garam Masala Seasoning – 3 tsp = $0.70 ($2.30 / 1.7 oz jar)
Curry Powder – 1/2 tsp = $0.29 ($3.48 / 1 oz jar)
Ginger – I couldn’t come up with an estimate for this. I used about a teaspoon of fresh-grated ginger root and it didn’t even register on my gram scale. I do know the average price for ginger root is $3.00 – $4.oo per pound, and if you peel it and keep it in the freezer and grate some off as needed, like I do, it lasts through many, many meals.
Coconut Oil – 2 TB for sautéing – $0.50 ($6.98 / 14 oz jar)
Total Ingredient Cost = $5.41
This recipe makes 6 servings so the total cost per serving = $0.90
*Fallon, Sally Nourishing Traditions pg. 507
Tip: Since this recipe only calls for half a can of coconut milk, why not double the amount of lentils, freeze both them and the coconut milk (in separate containers of course! 🙂 ) and then you’ll have a head start the next time you want to make this dish!