I remember hearing the word "curry" for the first time in fourth grade, and tried to guess just how it could taste. In northeast Iowa during the 80's, there really wasn't a lot of Indian food around. Not surprisingly, I have never actually tasted curry as I had imagined--I would no doubt need to taste test numerous authentic versions before finding something as deliciously close!
In the meantime, this recipe has become a staple at our home. It's not exactly the same as going to a restaurant, but it is quick to make. The trick is to cook a bunch of lentils at one time and freeze them; they are easy to thaw out and make the dish much faster to put together. My other recommendation is to buy some really good Indian curry paste. It's worth the price if you plan to cook dishes like this often, as a jar can really go a long way.
You could easily substitute chicken or beef (fish? not sure) for the lentils; just brown/cook and add when you would normally add the lentils. For the peas, you could mix them in with the rice (as shown) or with the curry itself. They'll cook quickly either way.
2-1/2 c cooked brown or red lentils
1 onion, diced
1-2 T oil
2 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
2-4 T Indian curry paste (depending on how hot you want this to be)
1 T Indian curry powder
1 tsp sugar
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 c frozen green peas
Begin by getting the rice going; basmati is fantastic with this dish, but short grain or regular white rice would be okay too.
Secondly, put the diced potato into a microwave safe bowl, and add a little water. Cover and cook 5-10 minutes until cooked about 90% of the way. This will save you time later on the stovetop.
Now, to begin the curry. Carmelize the onions in the oil. When browned, add the curry paste and curry powder. Cook about 1-2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, cook another 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils and potatoes, simmer for 10 minutes or so. Add frozen peas and turn off the heat after about a minute.
Serve with the rice.