It’s impossible not to notice that the world wide web is flooded with recipes of stuffed turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casseroles and pecan pies in preparation of Thanksgiving dinner in the US this week. For those of us outside the US, we might not be having turkey dinner Thursday night but we could take the time to be thankful for all we have. Actually, expressing gratitude should not be a once-a-year celebration, it should be an everyday habit.
Giving thanks takes practice because we are not hardwired for it, but once you get the hang of it, it’ll change your life in a major ways. If you are not practicing gratitude daily, maybe this week of Thanksgiving is the best moment to start.
You can say thanks for the obvious material things in your life, like the roof over your head, the car you drive or the latest smartphone you carry in your pocket. But say also thanks for what money cannot buy, like how good it feels hugging your kiddo tight when you get home from work, feeling gratitude for those lazy Sunday mornings when you can stay in bed a little longer (that is, if aforementioned kiddo lets you do that) or just simply say thanks that today there were no traffic jams on your way to work. Notice the small things. Another way of saying thanks is complementing the people around you, be that your family, your coworkers or the lady who served you that fresh croissant at the boulangerie. Gratitude is also noticing the nature that surrounds you and thanking the crisp morning air, the wind or the sun that gives us life (talk about the sun – we don’t often see that in Paris this time of the year, so I am especially grateful on days when the skies clear up). And last but not least, thank yourself: your skills and achievements, your courage and struggles, and your strong body that carries you daily even when you don’t treat it as well as you should.
When you eat, take time to notice the taste, the texture, the colors of your food and be grateful how it is nourishing your body (this obviously won’t work if you picked up your lunch at McDonald’s or at Subway, your body won’t find much nourishement in that). Give thanks to your food, even when it’s a simple plate like these coral-colored lentils I prepared for dinner Sunday night. The ingredient list is short: a few veggies and lentils mixed with some Indian spices and coconut milk. In one casserole you prepare the orange lentils. The cooking time is much less than for other lentils and pre-soaking is not necessary at all. In another casserole it’s onion, garlic, carrots and zucchini spiced up with cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, coriander, ginger, chili, lemon juice and the coconut milk. Apart from chopping the veggies, all is done in less than 20 minutes. I left the veggies a little bit crunchy, as for the lentils, they have become mushier than I wanted to. When cooking orange lentils, going from crunchy to mushy is a matter of a few seconds so you need to be attentive. And the best part? Well, that was the leftover on Monday evening. And then I gave thanks that dinner was ready in the blink of an eye!
What you’ll need to serve 4 persons:
- a good glug of olive oil
- 1 medium onion, cleaned and finely chopped
- a thumb-size ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 cloves of garlic, cleaned and finely chopped
- 4 carrots, cleaned and finely diced
- 2 medium zucchini, cleaned and finely diced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ground fennel seeds
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground mustard seeds
- 1 tsp ground fenugreek seeds if available
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp chili powder or peperoncino (optional)
- Himalaya salt and pepper to taste
- juice of half a lemon
- a handful of fresh cilantro, de-stemmed and chopped
- 0,15 l unsweetened coconut milk
- 250g orange lentils
- filtered water, about 0,4l
- ½ cube of organic vegetable stock
- a pinch of gratitude
What you’ll need to do:
- Start by preparing the veggies in a large pan over medium-high heat: add the oil then the chopped onion and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the grated ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander, fennel and mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, chili, lemon juice, salt and pepper and give it a good turn. Add the garlic, then the chopped carrots and zucchini, cover, turn the heat lower and braise slowly for 10-15 minutes. Take off the lid, stir in the coconut milk and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
- In the meantime rinse the orange lentils thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer. No need to soak them, they cook very quickly, they’ll be ready faster than your veggies. Cook them in a saucepan twice the volume of water as lentils. Add the vegetable stock. Cover, set the heat high and bring to a simmer then lower the heat and cook uncovered. I cooked them for about 15 minutes and they turned out to be a bit overcooked, so stay close to the saucepan if you want to avoid them becoming mushy.
- When the lentils and veggies are done combine them. Check if more salt or maybe some olive oil is needed. Top generously with fresh cilantro . You could serve this lentil curry alone as a dish or combine it with white rice or for a healthier version with quinoa.