Top | Side Dishes

Curried Red Lentils

(recipe, Caroline Cummins)


Adapted from two recipes in Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian, this lightly spicy dish is delicious served over rice and alongside curried cauliflower, such as Indian-Style Sauté of Cauliflower and Greens, or potatoes, such as Okra with Potatoes.


  1. 1 cup red lentils, picked over, washed, and drained
  2. 3 cups water
  3. ¼ tsp. ground turmeric
  4. 1 tsp. salt
  5. 2 Tbsp. ghee, coconut oil, peanut oil, or other vegetable oil
  6. 1 tsp. whole cumin, anise, or fennel seeds
  7. 1 green onion, cut into slivers (optional), or a few Tbsp. minced onion
  8. Black or cayenne pepper, to taste
  9. Plain yogurt, for garnish (optional)


  1. Put the drained lentils and 3 cups water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low and skim off the foam. Add the turmeric, stir, and cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Continue cooking on low for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the lentils are tender but still somewhat soupy. Stir in the salt.
  2. While the lentils are nearly cooked, put the vegetable oil in a small skillet. Heat for a few minutes over medium-high heat, then add the seeds. Let the seeds sizzle for a few seconds, then add the onion (if using) and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Add the pepper, if using, then scrape the mixture into the cooked lentils. Stir the flavoring into the lentils, then serve hot with the yogurt on the side.