Simple Indian Lentil Recipe
Lentils are definitely one of my top 5 favorite foods. Wouldn’t you agree? I had no idea that legumes could be so delicious until I discovered my love for Indian food many years ago. Lentils are a staple food for many countries ranging from as far east as Myanmar (Burma) to as far west as North Africa. There are many kinds of lentils; Red, French, Green, Brown, etc. I typically use French or brown lentils if I want to throw them on salads or use in making lentil patties (they maintain their shape and texture better), and red lentils if I am making Indian lentils or lentil soups (they completely breakdown when cooking).
Lentils are very high in protein and fiber. The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference states that one cup of cooked lentils contains 17 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber, as well as being high in iron, phosphorous, potassium, and folate. Most people why away from cooking lentils because they think it is too time consuming. Once you have everything together though, you can practically leave the cooking to itself. Here is a guide to a simple Indian lentil recipe.
This is a very simple Indian lentil recipe. It is not going to be as authentic as if you went to an India restaurant or even India. What I like about it is it’s simplicity with great flavor. You can easily throw this together in an hour or so. It’s also perfect for those that don’t like a lot of spice (not hot spice but spice in general).
What You Need:
Package of dried lentils (for this recipe I like to use split red lentils or even a combination of 2 parts red lentils to 1 part yellow split peas)
One large onion or two small to medium onions
Tablespoon or two of fresh ginger, minced
5-7 cloves of garlic, minced
One or two small to medium sized tomatoes
5 Curry leaves (this is not required)
Coconut Oil or Ghee for frying
Spices: You should be able to get these spices at your local grocery store or Asian food store.
– Turmeric (fresh or powder) ~ one tablespoon
– Coriander Powder ~ two tablespoons
– Cumin Powder ~ two tablespoons
-Cumin Seeds ~ one tablespoon
– Salt (I prefer Pink Himalayan Sea Salt) ~ salt to taste preference – but remember, these are not canned lentils which have an enormous amount of sodium added, so you can be generous with your salt here.
Cilantro (optional) – you can add in as much as you want, I usually throw a 1/2 cup chopped in. You can also use it as a garnish on top
*NOTE: My recipe is never exactly the same each time I make the lentils. I play with the flavors, which is why I write “one or two tablespoons” because it really is a preference for how much flavor you want. I always just eye-ball it!
1. Soak your lentils overnight in water. This helps reduce cooking time by softening the beans. For this recipe I might use 4 or 5 cups of lentils, to make a large pot and have leftovers! Lentils expand while soaking, so you’re going to get more than you think.
2. Boil water in a large pot. You don’t have to have a precise amount of water, because you can always add more water when cooking the lentils. Or if you have too much water, you can keep the top off and let the water boil out while cooking. For a large pot I might fill it half full of water. Once water is boiled, add lentils and salt. Make sure you keep an eye on the lentils and stir often so they don’t stick to the pot. Cook on medium temperature.
3. Chop tomatoes and throw in with lentils.
4. In a frying pan, saute diced onions in oil (I prefer coconut oil) until translucent, add curry leaves (optional) , add in fresh minced ginger and fresh minced garlic. Caution: DO NOT BURN! Mix in with lentils.
5. Now the spices must be fried before adding to lentils. In 3 or 4 tablespoons of coconut oil, fry the cumin seeds, turmeric, coriander powder, and cumin powder. Caution: DO NOT BURN. They only need to be fried a minute or so. Add to lentils.
6. Mix everything together, taste, add salt if necessary, and let cook until you are satisfied with the lentil texture. If your looking more for soup, let the lentils cook down a few hours. If you want lentils to put over rice, let cook one hour or so.
7. Throw in chopped cilantro and put on top as garnish.
Lentils leftover in the fridge can last 5 days or so. Enjoy!!