In the 17th through 19th centuries, British, Dutch, and Portuguese traders sailing the Spice Route made a mandatory stop in the Moluccas (Spice Islands) for nutmeg, mace, and cloves; and Sri Lanka and the Malabar Coast (on the southwestern tip of India) for their exclusively grown Malabar cinnamon and Malabar black pepper. These spices, plus the chilies and cardamom from inland routes, were the basis of many of the region’s curry spice blends.
Contrary to popular belief, curry powder is not a single spice but in fact a blend of many spices (seven in this recipe). Here, the combination of spices with tomato is indicative of New Delhi origins.
- Boil the lentils in water to cover for approximately 25 minutes, until they are soft but not mushy. Set aside.
- Heat the oil. Sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until the onions are soft and the garlic is light golden.
- Mix in the spices and vegetables and sauté for 3 minutes.
- Add the broth, tomato paste, chickpeas, and salt (if needed). Cover and simmer for about 8 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
- Drain the lentils and add to the vegetables. Stir in the nuts and serve over the rice with yogurt if desired.
- Try to avoid using curry powder-cooking with fresh individual spices produces an incomparable flavor.