Healthy comfort food?
Preparation time
Cooking time
Total time
Robin explains !Meredith tells me the first time she became aware of lentils was at the age of thirty-five. They had not been part of her experience growing up in suburban Chicago! Much has changed, Indian restaurants are commonplace now in the US. This recipe is hands-on for the first half hour or so, as it builds in the taste. Then it chugs along on a low heat for 50 minutes as the lentils dissolve and the dal forms. The finish involves sautéing a small amount of onion, garlic and dried red pepper to stir into the mix to lift it. We ate it recently as an accompaniment to the Spicy Grilled Chicken Breast (page 126). It is adapted from a recipe in Ismail Merchant’s excellent and quirky cookbook Indian Cuisine".
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 4
  • 1 small onion peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 8 oz red lentils rinsed until the water runs clear
  • Short stick of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger grated
  • 250 ml stock
  • 250 ml hot water
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • juice and shell of a lemon
To finish
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • ½ small onion chopped
  • 1 small dried red chilli chopped
  • 1 garlic clove peeled and chopped
  1. Cook the onion over a low heat in the oil until it is opaque - about 5 minutes
  2. Add the lentils, cinnamon and ginger and mix in, keeping the heat low and stirring from time to time to avoid them sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. A nutty aroma starts to rise from the darkening lentils as they cook.
  3. Add the stock and hot water, cayenne and salt. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Cook gently for a further 10 minutes, then add the lemon juice and empty lemon skins and stir together.
  5. Cover the pan and continue cooking on a very low heat for 45 minutes stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.
  6. In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the slice onion. Let this colour for 5 minutes over a medium heat.
  7. Add the chilli and chopped garlic and continue cooking until the garlic begins to brown.
  8. Add this to the lentils and mix in.
  9. Adaptation The second time I cooked this, I used different lentils and cooked them on their own before adding the other ingredients.
Recipe by Edinburgh Foody at