I cannot smell Curry without thinking of my dear friend, Cherie. I also cannot get a massage, paint, eat on the floor or hear Nora Jones without her sweet face entering my mind. I have not seen her in almost four years but she is still an influence in my day-to-day.
You see, Cherie put curry in everything. When she made soup- curry. When she cooked Mexican- curry. I swear I had apple pie this gal made that had a hint of curry.
After a chaotic week (I know, it was only Wednesday) I was feeling a little nostalgic and in need of that peace my friend would bring me as we shared lunch daily in my business, circa 2003-05. Last night, as an ode to my Denver residing friend I made my version of Curry Lentil Soup. It has a little bit of her, a little bit of me and a lot of memories laced into every bite.
Red Lentil and Tofu Curry
Adapted from Gourmet
1 small onion, medium diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 pound firm tofu
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
1 tablespoons, fresh cilantro, chopped
Heat 1 tablespoon oil In a small sauce pot. Cook onion and garlic over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Add ginger and cook for another minute. Add lentils and water and bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are soft enough to fall apart, about 20 minutes.
While lentils are boiling, rinse tofu and trim ends off. Cut tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. Gently press tofu between paper towels to remove excess moisture.
In a wok or skillet heat remaining tablespoon oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Cook cumin seeds, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tofu cubes and gently stir fry (after you first put in tofu, leave it untouched for about 2 minutes to allow it to slightly brown, then stir.) Add curry and salt. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer tofu mixture into the lentils. Cook curry for another 4 to 5 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Salt to taste. Remove from heat and garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice, toasts or crackers, baguette or multigrain bread.
I enjoyed this meal sitting cross legged on my floor, listening to the soothing voice of Nora and reminising about good times spent with great friends on Monroe Street in Radford, circa simplier times... or were they?