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I was first introduced to Indian food when I was living in Birmingham, England. The British have long had a love affair with curries, and I was totally hooked after my first bite.
Although I had dined on meat curries such as chicken tikka masala and chicken vindaloo for awhile, it took me a few years before I developed an appreciation for Indian vegetarian fare. In fact, India has the world's largest number of vegetarians, and consequently some of the most mouthwatering vegetarian dishes!
Lentils and Lentils Benefits
One of my favorite Indian dishes is Indian spiced lentils. Lentils prepared with Indian spices are absolutely delicious, and so very good for you!
Lentils, part of the legume family, are considered a superfood and are a nutritional powerhouse! They are full of nutrients, rich in protein, and are low in fat and calories. Lentils are high in iron, manganese, folate, and potassium. Also high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, these tiny pulses pack a nutritional punch!
This amazing food is so economical and comes in a variety of colors. A 1 lb pack of green lentils at my grocery store costs just over $1.00. They come in many types and colors including green, yellow, red, and black.
Indian Style Spicy Green Lentils and Accompaniments
This recipe is for spicy green lentils, cooked with Indian spices. This dish is easy to prepare, budget friendly, delicious, and nutritious! It is fairly spicy, however if you are not fan of hot and spicy food you can omit the chilis and cayenne pepper. 🙂
This dish is highly aromatic. Imagine the aromas when you stir in your turmeric, coriander, and curry powder. I have a masala box to keep my spices handy, and I absolutely love it. It stores just the right amount of spices, and it's great to have all the spices regularly called for in Indian cooking right at hand.
You'll want to serve the Indian spicy green lentils with some basmati rice. Also highly aromatic, it is considered the king of rices and comes in white and brown varieties. Here is a great recipe for The Perfect Basmati Rice With Saffron.
I also recommend serving this with an onion salad. Indians love onion salads, and this version is so simple to create. Combine sliced red onions, a wedge of lemon and/or lime, some chilis (I used Thai chilis), and cilantro for a delicious onion salad.
You can of course serve your lentils on any dish, however I always think my curries and lentils taste better in balti serving bowls. This helps to create an authentic Indian dining experience. 🙂
The lentils are also great just as a side dish, instead of a main course. If you are looking to eat more plant based/vegetarian foods, then you will find lentils a good option time and time again. And if you like Indian food, then these Indian spiced green lentils will be right up your alley.
If you like this, you also may want to consider some Okra Fries, Indian style, and courtesy of Chai Pani in North Carolina. 🙂
Enjoy this taste of India!
Indian Spiced Green Lentils
- 200 grams green lentils rinsed and sorted
- ½ onion minced
- 1 inch ginger peeled and minced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 thai chilis optional
- 3 tablespoon butter split
- 1 ts cumin seeds
- 1 ts coriander
- 1 ts turmeric
- 1 ts curry powder
- ½ ts cayenne
- salt to taste
- 1 tomato roughly chopped (optional)
- handful cilantro roughly chopped (optional)
- ½ red onion sliced
- few wedges lime or lemon
- few sprigs cilantro
- 1 or 2 thai or serrano chilis sliced for extra heat (optional)
- Heat up a pan to medium high. Dry fry (continuous stirring) the cumin seeds for approximately 30 sec - 1 minute, until the seeds are slightly browned and aromatic. Leave on the side to be used in a later step.
- Rinse and sort the lentils. Place in a deep saucepan, and cover with about 1 inch of water. Bring to the boil (skim off any scum), and then lower the heat and simmer for approximately 12-15 minutes. Add additional water if necessary while simmering. At the end of the cooking time, taste the lentil to determine if it is tender. Continue to cook if necessary until tender. Once tender, turn off the heat, and then drain off most of the water, leaving just a little bit.
- Mince the garlic, ginger, onion, and chilis (if using) in a food processor.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter (med high heat) in the pan that was used to dry fry the cumin. Add the minced garlic, ginger, onion, and chilis to the pan and stir fry for around 3 minutes. Add the curry powder, turmeric, coriander, and cayenne, along with about 1 tablespoon of water, and stir for around 1 min or so.
- Add the mixture from the pan to the drained lentils, along with the rest of the butter (2 tbsp). Add in the cumin and cilantro if using, and then stir well. Add salt to taste at this point.