Curry Spice Blend
2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. ground turmeric (or use 1-inch piece fresh, peeled and minced, when adding fresh garlic and ginger)
1 tsp. red chili flakes or Aleppo pepper
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
½ tsp. cardamom seeds (from about 8 whole pods)
⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup dried red lentils
2 tbsp. olive or canola oil
1 white or yellow onion, finely chopped
1 piece ginger (1 inch), peeled and minced or grated
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb. ground lamb or beef
1 tbsp. Worcestershire or fish sauce
1 can (15 oz.) diced or crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
Thinly sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, and full-fat yogurt, for serving (optional)
For the Curry Spice Blend, toast all whole spices in a small dry pan for 2 minutes over medium heat until fragrant. Transfer to a spice grinder and process until finely ground. Combine ground spices into a mix.
Rinse lentils. In a small pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Salt water and stir in the lentils. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil, two turns of the pan, over medium-high. Add the onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes, until softened, then add ginger and garlic. Stir for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add lamb, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon; add the curry spice blend. Cook, stirring, until spices are fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup of water. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until thickened and meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in lentils.
Serve in shallow bowls with toppings of choice.