Saturday, September 25, 2010

Indian Spiced Lentils Recipe (Gluten-Free, Meatless)

Indian Spiced LentilsI remember the first time I ever tasted lentils, in a soup that was served at a Mexican restaurant where I had my first job. Certainly my mother never cooked them so I have no idea how I became such a lentil fan, but if a recipe contains lentils, it's pretty much a sure thing I'll like it. This favorite recipe for Indian Spiced Lentils is a lentil side dish that I first posted nearly five years ago, almost as an after-thought added to another recipe. I've made this many times since then, and this dish is so tasty and easy-to-make that I finally decided it deserves a post of its own. This week I made it again and took some photos, and I'm officially adding it to recipe favorites on the blog.

(Indian Spiced Lentils was updated and added to Recipe Favorites September 2010)

I've made this many times with plain brown lentils, but recently I've become fond of these small lentils for dishes where I want the lentils to keep their shape, so that's what I used this time.

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and saute the onions until they're starting to get some color, about five minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute 1-2 minutes more.

Add the curry powder and saute with the onions and garlic for about 2 minutes more.

Then add the lentils and chicken or vegetable stock, bring to a simmer, cover pan, and cook until lentils are tender and liquid is absorbed, about 30-40 minutes.

Start checking after about 30 minutes. This is done when lentils are tender and the liquid is absorbed. (If you don't have your stove at a low enough simmer, you may need to add a little more liquid before the lentils are tender. The cooking time of lentils will depend on how old they are; I cooked the lentils in these photos about 38 minutes and then let them sit for 5 minutes with the lid on.)

When lentils are done, chop up a generous amount of parsley. (I used curly parsley, but either type would work, and I think cilantro would also be good in this.)

When lentils are soft but still slightly chewy, stir in parley, season with salt and fresh-ground black pepper, and serve hot. This is a perfect dish to make ahead, freeze in individual portions, and take for a grab-and-go lunch for work.

Indian Spiced Lentils
(Makes about 4 servings, adapted from The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook)

4 tsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced in 1/4 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 1 tsp. minced garlic)
1 tsp. sweet curry powder
1 tsp. hot curry powder (or less, depending on how spicy you like it. You can also use your favorite curry powder blend instead of the sweet and hot curry powder.)
1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed
2 cups homemade chicken stock or 1 can chicken broth and 1/4 cup water (or use vegetable stock for vegetarian version)
3/4 cup chopped parsley (or less)
salt/pepper to taste

Heat oil in medium sized heavy pan, add onions, and saute 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes. Add curry powder to onion-garlic mixture and saute about 2 minutes more.

Add lentils and stock, bring to a low simmer, then cover pan and cook until lentils are tender and liquid is absorbed. Cooking time will depend on how old the lentils are, but after 30 minutes I would start to check every few minutes. You may need to add a little water towards the end if your stove doesn't keep the simmer low enough. (I cooked the lentils in the photos for 38 minutes and then let them sit about 5 minutes with the lid on.)

When lentils are done (soft but still slightly chewy), remove from heat, and let sit covered for 5 minutes while you chop the parsley. Stir in parsley, season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

This is a perfect dish to cook ahead, freeze in individual portions, and take to work for a quick grab-and-go lunch.

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South Beach Suggestions:
Lentils are a great low-glycemic legume, and this recipe is suitable for any phase of the South Beach Diet, but if you're eating lentils for phase one remember that the recommended serving size is not more than 1/2 cup.

More Tasty Ideas with Lentils:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Mujadarra (Middle Eastern Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions) from Kalyn's Kitchen

Green Lentil and Red Pepper Salad with Red Onion, Mint, and Feta from Kalyn's Kitchen

Mexican Red Lentil Stew with Lime and Cilantro from Kalyn's Kitchen

Spicy Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew (Paula's Moroccan Lentil Stew) from Kalyn's Kitchen

Lentil Soup with Ground Beef and Brown Rice from Kalyn's Kitchen

Vegetarian Lentil Burgers from 101 Cookbooks

Curried Lentil Risotto from Just Bento

Curried Lentils and Sweet Potatoes from Smitten Kitchen

Spiced Lentils and Rice from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

Southwest Lentil Patties with Creamy Lime Dressing from Healthy Delicious

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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More to Chew On:


  1. Like you, I've seldom met a lentil dish I didn't love. Curry and lentils are such a surprisingly good combination. I love the vibrant color the parsley brings to this dish, too.

  2. Thanks Lydia. This is such a simple dish, but perfect as a side with so many things.

  3. Thanks for another tasty recipe Kaylyn. I love dals, and your recipe is an easy way to make dals without having all the Indian spices on hand. I am a big fan of your blog, you make cooking so approachable.

  4. I feel the same about lentils. I think my first experience was a Frugal Gourmet recipe of lentils, rice and caramelized onions, and I was hooked. I've had to practice to make sure they are cooked firm. The curry seasoning sounds wonderful here.

  5. Jeanette, thank you! I do always have that in mind when I'm picking recipes.

    TW, I love that lentil dish with rice and caramelized onions (Mujadarra). For years I used to order it at a little place in Salt Lake which sadly went out of business.

  6. I love lentils! I bookmarked this recipe: it is indeed quick to make, and I like you idea of freezing it in individual portions.

  7. Simona, glad you like it. This really does freeze perfectly.

  8. I love lentils and I sure didn't grow up eating them either. This looks like a winner with the curry and parsley!

  9. hi
    lovely to see an Indian recipe on Your blog , I feel good
    You can try this thing... I think I will too make a post on my blog..
    You can add these lentils you have made to rice and cook them together or you can make rice and then stir in the lentils and garnish with coriander leaves.. It makes a great rice dish....

  10. This is a wonderful vegetarian meal. Curry is such a comforting flavor for me and I can imagine it makes these lentils really come alive.

  11. Carol, it's definitely a winner with me. So easy and tasty.

    Mahek, I know this isn't an authentic Indian dish, but it's definitely good. I love your idea of combining this with rice; I will definitely try that!

  12. YUM! Its almost like a salad. And I have a post on my blog, where I actually called them Black Lentils. Oouch! now I guess I was wrong, will have to change it to brown. We make it more soup to go with rice or bread and something like this to go on side with a vegetable curry.

  13. Dara, we must have been commenting at the same time! I do love the curry flavor in this.

    Kulsum, there are black lentils too, but these are definitely brown.

  14. That looks so good! Lentils are wonderful- how can something so cheap be tasty AND good for you? Have you ever tried sprouting them?

  15. Nupur, I haven't tried sprouting them, but I'm guessing I'd like it!

  16. That looks perfect and the way Indian lentils are made.Good Job done!
    We eat these lentils with rice more often than as a soup.Makes a wholesome meal.

  17. Tanvi, I do like the idea of eating this with rice. Planning to try it.

  18. I make a dish like this almost weekly, but I throw in a potato and something spicy. Sometimes I serve it with rice and sometimes we just eat it. Delicious!

  19. Hi Kalyn,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to publish this blog. I appreciate all of your beautiful pictures and crystal clear directions. I am new to your blog-- I found it last night when I Googled South Beach Diet recipes. Your recipes makes the diet seem so approachable. I was laid off from a great job 16 months ago. I finally found a new job with the Department of Defense and I can't fit in any of my gorgeous suits (nor can I afford to buy new clothes in the next size up)! So, I am doing South Beach and I hope to make it a lifestyle change. Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

  20. Brenda, potato would taste good (but not good for South Beach Dieters!) I'm sure there are endless variations.

    Lisa L., I'm so glad you're finding the blog to be helpful. I promise you, the diet will work if you stick with it. Good luck with that and with the new job.

  21. This soup looks great... it's supposed to get cooler around here this week... and this tasty soup is the perfect cool weather soup!

  22. Dana, actually it's not a soup. This is a lentil side dish, but definitely very tasty.

  23. Hi,

    You may try soaking lentils for a while that will reduce cooking time.
    Warm water also can be used for soaking.


  24. the best quick recipe ever found, specially for health enthusiast like me, I just love this stuff, I made a copy of it,thanks for sharing Kalyn,



  25. Nilima, I don't want to soak for this recipe, but thanks for the tip.

    Ann, glad you like it.

  26. Mom made lentil soup when I was a kid, it was the first legume I ever liked. They are probably my favorite!

  27. Gina, definitely my favorite of all the beans and legumes too!

  28. Love lentils too and this post has got me craving!

  29. Hi ChicaJo,
    Just moved your blog to Google Reader since Bloglines is closing! Glad you like it; an easy way to have lentils as a side dish.

  30. Hi Kalyn
    Lentils make me hungry.
    My way of making them is, I cook them and dispose of any liquid left if any, then add a few drops of lemon juice, garlic, chopped cilantro, tabasco, salt and a good amount of extra virgin olive oil....Nati

  31. Nati, that sound delicious! I like lentils no matter how they're cooked; just love the flavor of them.

  32. Do you eat this as a meal or a side dish? I know lentils are supposed to be super healthy and I want to cook with them more, but I'm still scared :)

  33. I'd eat it as a side dish, or maybe as a small lunch. Nothing to be scared about; lentils are delicious!

  34. This lentil dish sounds delicious! Thats true for me too - I am very likely to enjoy any dish as long as it has lentils as the main ingredient. Recently I have started ordering french green lentils which are just great in terms of keeping their shape after cooking.

  35. PJ, I do love the French green lentils too. Those and these small brown ones are my favorites for lentil salads and side dishes, but I love the red lentils and plain brown ones for soup.

  36. This sounds delicious! And am very excited about adding lentils to my diet. However, my husband & I aren't fans of curry...can you recommend another spice that might work? Thanks!

  37. I wouldn't make this without curry powder but type "lentils" into the search bar and you will find a lot of other lentil recipes.

  38. Made this a couple of weeks ago and although I doubled the recipe, we (2 adults, a 4-yr old and an 18-mo) still only ended up with a little left over because everyone LOVED it! Tonight I'm quadrupling the recipe so I can have some to freeze and I've added 1lb chopped frozen spinach for a little extra nutrition.


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