BOOMBASTIC Indian-Style Red Lentils

BOOMBASTIC Indian-Style Red Lentils

I gotta give a disclaimer here: This recipe is not my original recipe, but was adapted from Aarti Sequeira…it was just too good not to share. I was getting cooking inspriation yesterday when I stumbled upon her video for Indian-style red lentils. I’d never heard of her before and I instantly liked her; I thought she was so pretty, charming and believeable. The recipe was different from the Ethiopian preparation that I usually go with, but it sounded legit. I made them last night for dinner and they were EV-ER-Y-THING!

I made a few adjustments: First, the recipe called for mustard seeds and I didn’t have any on hand, so I nixed those. I also added 1 teaspoon of madras curry powder, upped the cumin seed amount to 1 teaspoon and decided to use smoked Spanish paprika in place of the regular paprika. Spanish paprika is deep and smoky, yet never overpowering. I use it in sauces, ragout, as garnish, etc. it’s extremely versatile. Feel free to use regular paprika if its all you’ve got. Finally, Aarti uses vegetable oil for her tempering oil, but I used grapeseed oil, instead. I served this beautiful pot of lentils with a baguette and red quinoa. Check out my little video, try out the recipe and enjoy :)


1 cup red lentils, picked through for stones
2 cups water
1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 (¾-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 jalapeno chile, sliced in ½, optional ( I personally go with 3)

Tempering oil (bagaar):
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon madras curry powder
½ teaspoon paprika (I used smoked Spanish paprika–a fave!)
1 tablespoon grapeseed or vegetable oil
Handful chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Put the lentils in a strainer and rinse them under running water. Add them to a bowl, cover with water and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of water, the onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chile, if using, and the lentils. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim any scum from the surface. DO NOT ADD SALT YET; it will toughen the lentils, thereby lengthening their cooking time. Lower the heat, cover the pot with a lid and gently simmer until the lentils are tender, almost translucent, and almost falling apart, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Whisk the lentils, releasing its natural starch, and mash some them so the mixture becomes thick. Add salt, to taste.

Tempering oil (bagaar): In a small bowl, combine the cumin and mustard seeds. In another bowl, combine the spice powders. Have all the ingredients ready because this will move very fast!

In a small skillet, over a medium-high flame, warm 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add seeds (they may sputter a bit). Add the spices. They should sizzle and bubble a little - that’s the blooming and it’s exactly what you want. Don’t let them burn. The mixture should bloom for about 30 seconds, no more.

Drizzle all of the oil mixture into the lentils (it may sputter). Stir to combine. Transfer the lentils to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro.

Santana Caress Benitez