Tamarind Lentils

If you think lentils are tasteless and boring, cook this lentil recipe and then think again.  This is a delicious dish combining the Indian-inspired flavours of cumin, garam masala and garlic, a little bit of heat from the cayenne pepper and ginger, and the sweet tangyness of maple syrup and tamarind.  Yum!

I served this over brown rice (as in the photo), but it would be equally fabulous served with cous cous, quinoa, or even on it’s own as a side-dish to another main meal.

Tamarind Lentils

Tamarind Lentils

Serves: 4-6

Time: 45 min


  • 45 mL coconut or peanut oil (I used coconut oil, you could use any oil really but coconut does give a nice flavour to the dish)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1.5 cm cube of ginger, peeled and minced (or grated)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • Generous pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed (I used green lentils, you could also use brown or blue, just not red as they are too mushy)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste or syrup (I used paste)
  • 15 mL pure maple syrup or agave nectar (I used maple syrup)
  • 1.5 tbs tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt


In a heavy-bottomed medium-size pot with a lid, melt the coconut oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and ginger, and let sizzle for 30 sec.  Add the onion and fry until translucent and soft, 2-3 min.  Stir in the garam masala, cumin seeds, and cayenne pepper, and stir for another 30 sec until the spices smell fragrant.  Add the lentil and vegetable broth, increase the heat to high, and bring the mixture to a boil.  Stir and lower the heat to medium-low.  Partially cover and simmer for 25-30 min, stirring occasionally, until the lentils have absorbed most of the liquid and are very tender.  The lentils will the very thick; add a few tablespoons of water if a thinner consistency is desired (I didn’t do this).

In a small cup or bowl, combine the tamarind, maple syrup, tomato paste and salt.  Use a rubber spatula to scrape all of the mixture into the lentils; stir to completely dissolve the flavourings.  Simmer the mixture for another 4-6 min, stirring occasionally.  Adjust the salt to taste and serve immediately (don’t worry, it reheats well too!).

Source: Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Categories: Grains & Legumes, Light Meals, Main Meals, Side Dishes | Tags: | Leave a comment

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