Red lentil, red bean and yellow split pea curry (with sweet potatoes, red peppers and kale)

Red bean, red lentil and yellow split pea curry

Red bean, red lentil and yellow split pea curry

Isaac likes to ask questions he knows the answers to. He’ll ask them again and again, and there must be something reassuring in getting the same answer every time. Of course this is dangerous when you have a mother who earned the name “Miss Snide” in her youth because of her snarky response to every question with an obvious answer, and who can’t give the same answer twice. So frequently our walks to school go a little something like this. “Mom, do you think Clio is cute?” “No, I think she’s a hideous beast.” “Mom, do you think Clio is cute?” “No, I think she’s foulfiendish.” “Mom, do you think Clio is cute?” On and on until I finally break and yell, “Of course I think Clio is cute, I only tell her so ten thousand times a day!” Last night when we were reading before bed it was, “Mom, what’s your favorite color?” “You know the answer, you tell me.” “GREEN! What’s your other favorite color?” “You tell me again,” “Blue!” And then Isaac recalled a time when one friend, who is a girl, said that her favorite colors are pink and red, and another friend, who is a boy, said she couldn’t like red because it’s a boy’s color. And then both Malcolm and Isaac said “There’s no such thing as boy colors and girl colors! Any body can like any color!” Isaac said it’s a made up myth. And Malcolm said that it sucks for girls, though, because they only get two colors, but boys get every other color there is. Well! It seemed like such a wise thing to say. It seemed like such a perfect metaphor for so much else in life, and I’d never thought about it before in that way. Pink and purple. I mean of course I’d realized how ridiculous it was to think of these as girlie colors, or let colors be so defining, and I’d always been proud of my boys for liking pink and purple in defiant solidarity. But I’d never realized how imbalanced it was. I’d never really thought about how every single other color belongs mostly to the boys. I had a funny sort of flash of “What else do we just live with and take for granted that I need my eleven-year-old to state with brilliant matter-of-fact clarity?” This week Isaac had to fill in a big poster about himself, and in the box for favorite color he drew just about every color known to magic markerdom. I love to think about my boys refining the light of the entire spectrum through the perfect prism of their ridiculously lovely combination of imagination and good sense. I love to think about them glowing with all the colors, with every color in the world.

Red lentil, red bean, and yellow split pea curry

Red lentil, red bean, and yellow split pea curry

Speaking of color! This dal had red lentils, yellow split peas and red beans. So it was very warm and autumnal. It also had red peppers and sweet potatoes, to add to the warmth and autumnalness. It was tasty, too, and satisfying. If you cook if for a nice long time, the red lentils will break down into a sort of background creaminess, but the split peas and red beans will retain their texture. We ate this with basmati rice and some Ooto flatbreads.

Here’s Louis Armstrong with What a Wonderful World.

3 T butter
3 black cardamom pods
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch cube fresh ginger, minced (or 1/2 t dried ginger)
1/3 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/3 cup yellow split peas, picked over and rinsed
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/3 inch cubes
1 small jalapeno or hot pepper, de-seeded, trimmed and diced (add more if you like it spicy)
1 large red pepper, trimmed and diced
3 or 4 large kale leaves, washed, stems removed, roughly chopped
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
1 t cumin
1/2 t each coriander, smoked paprika, and cardamom
pinch cinnamon
juice of one lemon
plenty of salt and pepper
small handful fresh cilantro and/or basil leaves

In a large stew pot, melt the butter. Once it’s bubbling, add the cardamom pods, shallots, and garlic. Stir and cook for a few minutes, until the garlic starts to brown and then add the split peas and lentils. Stir to coat them, and cook for a few minute until they’re toasty and sizzling. Add the sweet potatoes and peppers, stir and cook for a minute or two. Add the red beans. Add enough water to cover everything by about an inch. Stir in the kale, tomato and spices Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer in a lively fashion for about an hour. The longer you cook it the creamier and more flavorful it will be, but you at least want the split peas to be cooked through.

Season with salt and pepper, stir in the lemon juice, and top with fresh basil or cilantro


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