Tamarind Lentils

Basically everything I cook falls into two flavor categories. You start with a base of garlic and then add either basil and oregano OR turmeric and cumin (and probably ginger). Want to come over for dinner? Would you like some combination of lentils, potatoes, onions, rice, and some veggies with basil and oregano? Or with turmeric and cumin (and probably ginger)? Both of those combinations are amazing and I don’t get bored often. But I do realize there are MORE FLAVORS out there so recently I decided to use TWO new-to-me ingredients – coconut oil and tamarind.


(Hello, new friends!)

I felt pretty comfortable given that the other ingredients include garlic … ginger … and lentils. Phew. But anyway. I love this recipe. Sweet and satisfying.

Plus, I learned the unique satisfaction of seeing coconut oil melt in a hot heavy-bottomed medium-size pot with a lid. mmmm, mmm, mmmm. Thank you, Veganomicon.

Before you do anything else! Put your basmati rice in your rice cooker so this is all ready around the same time. … you still don’t have a rice cooker? Ok, put it in a pot. And then put a rice cooker on your holiday wish list.


Tamarind Lentils

3 Tbs. coconut or peanut oil (use coconut oil! do it!)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp. garam masala
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds (the first time I made it, I used ground cumin, but it’s worth buying whole seeds if you can)
Generous pinch of cayenne
1 cup dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 cups veggie broth or water
2 teaspoons concentrated tamarind syrup or paste
1 Tbs. pure maple syrup or agave nectar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 tsp. salt

Melt coconut oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed medium-size pot with a lid. Add garlic and ginger – let sizzle for 30 seconds. Add onion and fry until translucent and soft, 2-3 minutes. Stir in garam masala, cumin seeds, and cayenne, and stir another 20 seconds until spices smell fragrant (literally, about 25 seconds after I put these spices in, my girlfriend said “oh! it smells good in here!” If you need to borrow her for this part of the recipe, just let me know.) Add lentils and veggie broth – raise heat and bring to a boil. Stir and lower heat to medium-low. Partially cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils have absorbed most of the liquid and are very tender. The lentils will be thick – you can add a few tablespoons of water if you want a thinner consistency.

In a small cup or bowl, combine the tamarind, maple syrup, tomato paste, and salt. Use a rubber spatula to scrape all the mixture into the lentils and stir. Simmer the mixture for another 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I also added spinach near the end for some greenage. Theoretically, you could make a fancy veggie on the side, but as you can tell from every other recipe I’ve shared, I feel strongly that meals should be created in one large pot. 


About susan virginia yoga

Grassroots Organizing Director for UltraViolet (www.weareultraviolet.org) by day, yoga guide, dance partier, and red lentil soup connoisseur by night. Well. Evening. By night, I'm usually asleep.
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One Response to Tamarind Lentils

  1. Dorie Silverman says:


    thank you d

    Dorie Silverman Click HERE to receive your monthly Yoga Loveletter from Love this Life Studios LOVE THIS LIFE Studios Yoga classes – Privates – Professional Yoga Teacher Development 773.220.7815

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