This dish is one of our go-to recipes for a satisfying weeknight supper, especially on Vancouver’s rainy winter days. It is healthy, economical, and relatively quick to put together. It makes a fair amount too, so with just two of us it makes supper for a few days.
We don’t just save this dish for winter though – it often makes an appearance on hiking trips and cool summer nights. Lentils are perfect for making your own dehydrated backcountry meals because they dehydrate and rehydrate beautifully. This is a very stick-to-your-ribs dish, and coupled with the warmth of the spices it is oh-so satisfying to enjoy at camp after a long day of hiking. In fact, this post should be dedicated to our good hiking buddy, Amos (pictured below) who has affectionately nicknamed me “Lentil”.
The recipe has evolved over time, and I would argue we never make it the same way twice – the key to keeping it simple for a weeknight meal is to use what is on hand, so feel free to play around with ingredient additions and spice ratios to suit your liking. I prefer to be able to adjust the individual spices, but you can easily substitute the individual dried spices with 1-2 tbsp of good quality prepared curry powder.
This dish is also great for those with dietary restrictions, as it happens to be vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free (though we are none of the above).
- 1 ½ cups red lentils
- ½ cup green (we like French du Puy) lentils, or additional red are fine too
- 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil (or ghee)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium red pepper
- 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1-inch piece of ginger grated or finely chopped
- 1 medium red pepper
- ½ tsp chili flakes
- 1 tbsp brown mustard seeds
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 500 ml jar canned tomatoes, with juices (or 2 large tomatoes, chopped)
- 6-8 cups water
- 2 cups chopped kale, chard, or spinach (optional)
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
Rinse lentils and drain. Set aside.*
Heat coconut oil in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add red pepper, garlic, and ginger. Continue to cook 2-3 minutes.
Stir in spices (through salt) and allow to cook for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and cook another 2-3 minutes.
Finally, add lentils and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Cover partially and allow to simmer 30-45 minutes, or until lentils are soft.
Just before serving, remove bay leaf and stir in optional kale. Taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in ½ cup cilantro.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with remaining chopped cilantro. For added richness, you can also add a dollop of good quality, thick yogurt.
We like to enjoy this soup-style, with roti, though you could also serve it with rice. For the roti: lightly brush with ghee or coconut oil and toast for 30 seconds on each side in a cast ion pan. Sprinkle with ajwain or cumin seeds and a touch of sea salt if desired.
*Lentils can be cooked quite quickly from their dried state, but you may wish to soak them for up to 8 hours in 4-6 cups of water with a teaspoon of cider vinegar prior to cooking. This aids in digestion, though is not absolutely necessary. Note: soaking will significantly reduce cooking time.