Warm Spiced Lentils

Note: Cover photo from The Wanderlust Kitchen, link here.

One day I’ll start taking nice pictures of the dishes I make!

The first time I ever tried this dish (which is called dal in Hindi, also pappu), my roommate made it for me. I was amazed by how simple and how delicious it was, and as a perk, it’s healthy (and vegan). My roommate, whose parents are Indian, sent me her family’s recipe– this is my (very slightly) altered interpretation. It’s easy to make, and very filling. Love and thanks to Priyanka for introducing me to this dish!

Cook time: 20 minutes
Level: Easy
Vegan and gluten-free, if that’s your thing


1 cup red lentils (masoor dal), rinsed and picked through; green and yellow lentils also fine

1 T coconut oil (alternatively, use olive or canola oil)

1/2 large onion, any kind; medium or fine chop

1 clove garlic, minced

1 can good chopped tomatoes OR 1 large fresh tomato

1 small dried chili pepper, seeds and stem removed, chopped fine

1 vegetable bouillon cube (I also use Better than Bouillon in a jar)

2 cups water

Salt and pepper

Optional: fresh cilantro or other herb

The spices (popu):

1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds (black is better, but yellow or brown is fine)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon whole cumin seed (ground is fine)

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger or fresh ginger

2 teaspoons ground turmeric


  1. Rinse the lentils. Soak for a few hours, and even overnight, although it is okay to skip the soaking. The soaking leads to a shorter cook time, better texture, and less gas-producing compounds.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and garlic, good until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. If you are using fresh rather than canned tomatoes, add them to the pot and cook with the onion mixture about two minutes.
  3. Add chopped chili pepper, then the spice mixture. Some folks add the turmeric later, but I like to add it all together and let everything warm and toast together in the pot. Cook for a minute.
  4. If using canned tomatoes, add them to the pot at this time, along with the 2 cups of water and the bouillon cube. Stir to combine, breaking up the bouillon cube to dissolve it.
  5. Bring to a gentle boil, uncovered. As soon as it is stably bubbling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes covered, or until the liquid is absorbed and the lentils are tender. If the liquid absorbs too quickly, add more water. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
  6. Remove from heat, and eat! I like it as-is, no toppings or sides. You may enjoy some fresh cilantro, or a side of basmati rice and naan.









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