This brown lentil curry is a quick and easy vegan meal perfect for a speedy midweek dinner after work. In this simple Indian recipe, brown lentils (sabut masoor dal) are cooked with tomatoes, lots of garlic and onions, spiced to perfection and then tempered with simple onion and garlic tadka (more fried onions and garlic are added to the dish in the end). I love this curry for its earthy, garlicky flavour and nutty texture. It's the ultimate Indian comfort food - simple meals like this one are my absolute favourite!
❤️ WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS RECIPE
True, maybe this is not the most instaworthy shade of brown on the Internet but sometimes looks can be deceiving, you know. Just wait until you dive into a bowl of this earthy, garlicky comfort food - you will fall in love with it and you'll be cooking this warming, wholesome deliciousness nonstop.
This brown lentil dal is:
- 100% vegan (it's eggless and gluten-free)
- quick and easy to make - it comes together in just over 30 minutes
- a simple recipe that only requires a handful of basic, accessible pantry ingredients
- high in fibre and plant-based protein
- has a rich, earthy and garlicky flavour
- budget-friendly - this dinner recipe will literally cost you £1
- warming and satisfying warming comfort food
- a perfect mid-week dinner idea
- something Indian food lovers will definitely appreciate
- it tastes even better reheated the next day so it's perfect for meal-prep
- Brown lentils - our star ingredient, ladies and gentlemen! Brown lentils are a great source of dietary fibre and plant-based protein - they are vegans' favourite nutrition powerhouse! But I mostly love these cute little brown beads for their earthy flavour and firm texture: they hold their shape while cooking (as opposed to red lentils, for example).
- Onions - I used red onions (only because I'm obsessed with them) but do not despair, boring brown onions will get on will the brown lentils too.
- Garlic cloves - I always use garlic cloves bigger than my head (and I've got a fairly big head, to be completely honest with you) and you should do it too!
- Extra virgin olive oil - I hardly ever use sunflower oil or vegetable oils in my cooking because I don't believe they're good for you.
- Black cardamom - Ok, this one maybe won't be available in your local supermarket but your favourite Pakistani or Bengali grocer will have them for sure; do not skip this spice -if I may, it's the most important one.
- Whole green chillies - I usually use those tiny finger green chillies (bird's eye chillies) which nowadays should be available in any supermarket. I added two green chillies but maybe you should start from one (just to be on the safe side).
- more fresh coriander
- red chilli flakes
🔪 HOW TO MAKE SABUT MASOOR DAL
- Preparation: soak your brown lentils for at least half an hour and then rinse thoroughly (to reduce lentil cooking time and make them more tender).
- Place into a pot: lentils, diced tomato, diced 1/2 red onion, 4 cloves of garlic, crushed, chopped green chillies, all the spices and 5 cups of water. Stir well and bring to a boil.
- Cover the pan with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 40-45 minutes, until the lentils are cooked. Please note: these brown lentils don’t melt (like red split lentils do).
- To make tadka (tempering): in a frying pan fry chopped 5 cloves of garlic and remaining 1 and 1/2 onion in 5 tbsp of olive oil (use more or less oil, as you like). Fry until onion and garlic go brown. Now add garlic and onion tadka to brown dal. Mix properly.
- Stir in the chopped fresh coriander just before serving. Garnish with chilli flakes and more fresh coriander.
For the full ingredient list, exact measurements, complete recipe method, please scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom.
👩🏻🍳 TIPS FROM THE LENTIL PRINCESS
- Use garlic cloves bigger than your head 👽. The more garlicky your lentils are, the better. No such a thing as too much garlic. If you're looking for a garlic and onion-free recipe, I think you accidentally ended up on the wrong side of the Internet. Hope you will stay and make yourself comfortable, though!
- Make an effort and find those black cardamom pods somewhere. Yeah, I know the recipe calls for only one black cardamom pod but in this case, one black cardamom really makes a difference. We need it for that earthy flavour and smoky aroma. Black cardamom may not be available in your nearest supermarket but I already told you: South East Asian grocers save lives.
Why does this sabut masoor dal have to be so delicious?
Because, my friend, the combination of copious amounts of garlic and onions, lentils and Indian spices happens to be the most magical thing in the world. Indian cuisine is, quite literally, the best thing that ever happenned to me.
Can I make this sabut masoor dal in a pressure cooker?
Of course, you can! Sadly I do not own a pressure cooker (what kind of vegan am I?) so I am not able to share exact instructions and cooking time with you. Definitely, though - cooking brown lentils in a pressure cooker would reduce cooking time significantly. I need to get one of those miraculous devices as soon as possible (vegans are literally obsessed with it!) and once I do I'll update the recipe for you.
🍛 SERVING SUGGESTIONS
Pair this brown lentil curry with fragrant basmati rice, wholesome roti, fresh salad (cucumber, red onions and lettuce) and a selection of pickles (lime and aubergine pickles are my favourite).
🥡 STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS
Fantastic news! Leftovers will keep well in the fridge and they will taste even better the next day! Store your unphotogenic yet delicious brown lentil soup in an airtight container for 2-3 days. This brown lentil dal is also suitable for freezing. Although, in my case, the contents of the whole saucepan are usually gone within 36 hours.
🍜 MORE VEGAN RECIPES WITH LENTILS
Eddoe lentil curry - Sticky, slightly sweet eddoes (taro root – also called arbi) goes so well with red lentils in this recipe. I was introduced to this combination by someone from Pakistani Punjab.
Dudhi chana dal - a popular Indian recipe using Bengal gram and bottle gourd (also called opo squash).
Karela chana dal - bitter gourd is truly a fascinating vegetable and once you learn how to cook delicious vegan dishes with it, you will really appreciate it!
Oil-free mixed lentil dal - thanks to the magic of Indian spices, this healthy, wholesome dal is so delicious, you don't even need to add any oil to it.
Moroccan carrot lentil soup - a quick and easy soup recipe, spiced to perfection with Moroccan spices. Perfect warming comfort food on a rainy day.
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