Indian-Style Lentils

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe

This Indian lentil curry is incredibly easy to prepare and a good one for cooks just learning about Indian spicing. All of the ingredients are easy to find at your local grocer and made up of staple ingredients that many of us usually have on hand. Feel free to experiment with the quantity of spices used to come up with different flavor profiles and heat levels. It’s a healthy and economical dish that won’t have you sweating over a hot stove, freeing up time to spend outdoors or simply to relax in your favorite recliner.

If you’re like me and stick to dried legumes instead of buying canned ones, this is also an ideal dish because if you forget to soak your beans the night before, lentils are a good meal solution as typically they don’t need soaking. Try this earthy and slightly tangy curry for your next meatless meal. I suggest serving it with some hot rice and Indian flatbreads, such as dosas or fenugreek chapatis for a most satisfying dining experience.

Indian-Style LentilsIndian-Style Lentils
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on January 25, 2008

Simple dish of earthy green or brown lentils seasoned with tomato and Indian spices — an easy main or side

Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes

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  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups green or brown lentils, rinsed
  • juice from 1 small lemon (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • Heat the butter or oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and ginger, and stir for 5 to 8 minutes or until the onion browns. Toss in the cumin seeds, ground coriander, turmeric and cayenne, and continue to stir for 1 minute. Add the tomato, simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the water and lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, for 1 hour or until most of the water is absorbed and the lentils are tender. Stir occasionally, adding more water if necessary.

  • Stir in the lemon juice and salt, heat for another minute or two, then serve hot or warm.

Makes 4 main or 6 to 8 side servings

spicy lentils


Peter M said...

Lentils are great as long as some side dishes are beside it to complement it...olives, pickled veggies, bread...damn, I'm hungry again!

Chef Jeena said...

Wow when I saw this dish I started to feel hungry for lentils. It looks so delicious and so healthy too, great post. :-)

MapMaster said...

I second the olives and bread! Pickled veggies themselves I'm not as crazy about, but a slaw-style veggie salad would go great with all of the above.

Lisa Turner said...

Let's imagine a pairing of Mediterranean and Indian cuisine.

I would suggest serving these lentils with an olive cornmeal baked bread, and some simple spicy tomato rice.

Dori said...

Yummy, this looks really good! said...

Yummy!!!Just can't wait to try out this excellent recipe.

maryandkevinaz said...

These lentils were great! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I will definitely make this again.

Anonymous said...

I just have a Question , it doesn't say what kind of tomatoes or how much tomatoes to use... I really want to make this.. Sound so good. Thank you

Lisa Turner said...

Hi Anon. I would suggest using 1 large tomato, or 2 plum tomatoes. It really just depends on your preference. The recipe is easy and forgiving.

Anonymous said...

I made lentils today for the first time and didn't realize how fast the water gets absorbed. Needless to say...disaster. I am trying your recipe tomorrow!! Thank you :)

Anonymous said...

I made this for the first time.
I added Southwest Salsa after it was done. It really added to the dish!