BECAUSE FALL SO ORANGE EVERYTHING.
Finally it is less than 90 degrees here, which means I’ve been freezing for most of the day, no joke. It was in the mid 80’s all weekend, hit 90 more than once last week, and tonight is going to drop down to 47F, riddle me that. The temperature drop has made me wrestle internally with Beck’s sleeping situation; she’s old enough for blankets but I have irrational fears of EVERYTHING killing her, so is a sleep sack and our favorite jammies enough? The answer is of course yes because she 1. doesn’t sleep outside and 2. sleeps perfectly soundly all night long, but that doesn’t stop me from ruminating on the subject for no reason at all.
So we need some lentils to warm us up and to help us sleep better? Nice transition there.
These lentils are so legit, though. Indian food is one of our absolute favorites in almost any form; we eat something with Indian flavors (which is a huge range, luckily for me) at least once a week, and one of our favorite things to do on super busy nights is to order Indian takeout knowing that we’ll have a delicious dinner asap and leftovers for a day or two. Curry reheats well, is my point.
These lentils are similarly comforting, but don’t include any meat or animal products. I use chicken stock to make mine, but you can make this dish entirely vegan if you use vegetable stock instead. The spices in the lentils make the entire dish taste so warm, and the lentils I have cooked in 15 minutes or so, so the end result of the dish felt very slow-cooked and cozy while just taking a few minutes. I love these alone with cilantro and a lime wedge, but with rice, naan, or as part of a larger Indian meal would be really perfect as well.
You need! Onion, garlic, and fresh ginger. Chopped tomatoes, lentils, and stock. Ground coriander, turmeric, cumin, yellow curry powder, and cayenne pepper for a little bit of heat. Probably a good amount of salt depending on your preference and the amount of salt in your stock, and we’re ready to cook!
First, preheat a high-sided skillet or small soup pot to medium heat with a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until the onion is soft and just barely browned at the edges.
When the onion has cooked somewhat, add all of the spices, the tomatoes, the garlic, and ginger to the skillet. I use a microplane grater to grate the garlic and ginger directly into the skillet, but you can finely mince them if you don’t want to use a grater.
Stir the spice mixture together for about two minutes. The mixture is so fragrant at this point, your whole kitchen will smell wonderful. The spices will make something of a paste around the onions, but they’ll thin back out when the stock goes into the skillet.
When the spices are combined with the vegetables and very fragrant, add the lentils and stock to the skillet. Turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer the lentils until they are cooked through. The timing will depend on what kind of lentils you use, so increase or decrease the time and liquid based on the instructions on the package.
After about 10 minutes, stir the lentils and taste them; add some salt if needed (almost certainly; lentils need a good amount of salt to be flavorful), and cover the pot again and let the lentils keep cooking until they’re done. Mine took a little more than 15 minutes total, but yours might take longer if they are a different variety of lentil.
Done! Cozy, hugely flavorful, healthy, and filling. I love the deep flavors that this particular spice blend gives; it tastes so complex but familiar at the same time.
Make this soon! It’s perfect for this time of year.
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated or minced ginger
- 2 small tomatoes, diced
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- salt, as needed
- 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
In a high-sided skillet with a lid, add the onion with a bit of olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes or until translucent and just barely brown at the edges.
Add the garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and all of the spices to the skillet with a sprinkle of salt. Stir to form a paste and let the spices cook for two minutes.
Add the stock and lentils to the pan. Stir to distribute the spices into the liquid, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, stir the lentils and taste them; add more salt to your preference. Cover the pan again and let the lentils cook for 5-10 minutes more or until they are cooked through and tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Note that if you have a different type of lentils, cook time or amount of liquid needed may be slightly different. Adjust per the package you have.
Serve with cilantro, lemon or lime wedges, and a bit of rice or naan.
PS I took these leftovers to my parents and found my dad eating this cold from the fridge with carrots like a dip, which isn’t crazy because hummus.