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Red Lentils

We bought a large bag of red lentils at Costco and want to use them in various dishes. We are trying to cut down on our red meat intake and increase our legumes. My husband is from Turkey and he has a dish his mother made, which is one dish in my repertoire. I make a good lentil soup. That's two dishes. But I'm not sure what else to do. I know you can use them as a side like rice, but would like to use them in other dishes, as I know they are quite versatile. Wondering if any CHs can suggest ways they use red lentils in various dishes. Specifically as a main. Thanks!

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  1. I use red lentils quite a lot particularly for daal. Here's a recipe I posted on a WFD thread a few weeks back.

    "H, it's an adaptation of a daal I learned to cook in Sri Lanka.
    Don't really do measurements on this one but here's the recipe if you're interested.

    Red lentils
    Coconut Milk
    Frozen Spinach
    Curry powder
    Mustard seeds
    Half cinnamon stick
    Fresh curry leave.
    Garam masala
    Salt and sugar to taste.

    Fry off the mustard seeds and curry leaves for a minute or so on a very high heat. Turn to meduim heat. Add sliced onion and fry until translucent. Put in the curry powder and fry off add a little water to prevent the powder burning. Cook out for a couple of mins and add the lentils (after rinsing a couple of times) stir and add a tin of coconut milk and some water. Add some salt and sugar and the cinnamon stick. After about 10 mins take out the cinnamon (otherwise I find it a bit overpowering) and add some discs of frozen spinach-usually about 5 or 6 (this is for enough daal for 4 people).
    After another 10 mins the daal should be cooked. Check for seasoning and add garam masala at the last minute and stir in."

    1. Red lentils seem to make a lot of soup, stew and daal type dishes because they don't seem to retain their shape well (compared to green lentils).

      As a main, I've been considering using them to make red lentil burgers, but haven't settled on a single recipe source yet.

      1. Garden, my favorite red lentils dish is Ethiopian. I serve it with rice, bread salad and INJERA, the bread that serves as
        a plate and is also used for silverware. This lentil prep can also be served with rice and veggies, and/or fish.
        They cook very quickly, so need to be watched:
        Do not overcook. There are 2 kinds of berbere spices, the kind containing 5 peppers and the kind with fewer peppers.
        Authentically, it has 5 peppers plus these spices~
        ajwan seeds, allspice, black pepper, chili powder, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, nutmeg, paprika, salt. You can get Berbere blend Spice online at Zamouri Spice
        or make your own with the following recipe:
        The authentic 5 peppers is more difficult, but keeping some peppers separate allows you to negotiate the heat to your taste. You can use (additional) cayenne, chili powder, and
        hot paprika, mixed with a level teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice.

        4 cups of split red lentils
        1 large onion fine chopped
        1/2 cup or less of vegetable oil
        2 cloves garlic, minced or 2 t powdered
        1 grate a chunk of fresh ginger or a t powder
        2 large teaspoons Zamoura authentic Ethiopian Berbere powder.
        Salt (as needed
        )2 cups of water
        2-3 Cups TJ's marinera or 6 chopped tomats, plus 1-2 can fire roasted tomats

        Soak lentils for at least 1 hour. Drain and set aside.

        Saute onions in the oil until soft and golden, then add garlic and ginger, saute 5 minutes.

        Add Berbere spices and saute over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add tomato sauce/tomatoes and saute over medium heat stirring constantly some—5 or so minutes.
        Add soaked, drained lentils, stir to mix. Add water,stock is better,if necessary, bring to boil, turn down to simmer and cook for an hour or until soft and creamy. Scoop up with injera.

        Preparation Method: In large pot, simmer onion, garlic, and Berbere with vegetable oil. Add lentils and water continue to simmer for about 20 minutes at low heat, stirring occasionally until lentels are fully cooked. Serve hot with Injera (Ethiopian flat bread made of teff).
        This is so delicious. I do not know where you live, but in SoCal LA, you can get injera at the Ethiopian Merkato on Fairfax. Well worth the effort. The bread salad calls for
        iceberg lettuce, tomats, and bread soaked in Wishbone Italian dressing. I often use garlic/herb croutons which hold up well. This is the only dish combo where i would say the Wishbone Italian salad dressing is a must!
        Good luck with lentils! There are sites where other simple Ethiopian dishes are represented. It is my favorite cuisine.

        2 Replies
        1. re: VenusCafe

          That sounds delicious. I printed it out.

          Off topic I once had the most delicious green beans at an Ethiopian restaurant. I think I'll try a version of your recipe with green beans also. I've never found a green bean recipe that tasted anything like theirs. This combo might get close.

          1. re: VenusCafe

            Thank you VenusCafe - one of our favorite dishes I make here at home is Dorowat, so I always have a batch of Berebere mixed up and ready to go. That will make this recipe quite easy, actually. Great!

          2. There are several red lentil soups listed on this thread.


            1. Spilling the Beans contains recipes for making candied red lentils and candied red lentil meal. These are used in place of seeds or nuts in baked goods like fruit crisps and muffins, and taste like graham crackers. Unfortunately the book's index is not the best. It lists the recipe for candying the lentils, but not all the other dishes in the book whose recipes include them.

              1. I know you have a soup recipe already, but if you want another, this red lentil and collards soup is delicious. I blanch the collards in lots of boiling water rather than sauteing them but otherwise follow the recipe pretty closely. Hmmm, I need to make this again soon. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/lentil-a...

                1. Here's a terrific curried red lentil salad from The Frog Commissary Cookbook; scroll down - it's the second recipe on the page:


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: janniecooks

                    janniecooks, I had a look at this recipe, and unless I've misunderstood something, the lentils are cooked for only five minutes. I know that red lentils cook quickly, but that amount of time hardly seems adequate! Do you find that this short amount of time works okay?

                    1. re: Cilantra

                      Cilantra, the head notes on the page provide directions for cooking the lentils. Red lentils do cook quickly, but I agree that five minutes probably won't be enough. The key is in this sentence: "taste a couple lentils to ensure that they’re just cooked through (the idea is to have lentils that hold their shape without being hard)." So after five minutes, they may or may not need more cooking. You need to taste them. I don't recall how long I cooked them the last time I made this salad. The lentils definitely should not be mushy or the salad will be mushy.

                      1. re: janniecooks

                        Exactly what I figured. Thanks, janniecooks.

                  2. I use it as a thickener almost in dishes. Cook up some stew and then throw in a few handfuls to get a nice thick almost "sauce." I find it gives a great texture and honestly I'm trying to do the same thing you are and add more fiber to my diet.

                    1. A local resto called Cafe Flora makes a spectacular red lentil - pecan pate: http://www.recipe.com/lentil-pecan-pate/

                      1. Mujadara is wonderful and versatile. And I adore this rice and lentil stuffing:


                        1. This is simple food, simple prep but it's satisfying and delicious.

                          Don't be dismayed about the number of ingredients. They're mostly spices and that complexity is what makes Indian food so wonderful.

                          I like it cold as well as hot.

                          Red Lentil Curry
                          Serving Size: 8

                          • 2 cups red lentils
                          • 1 large onion, diced
                          • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
                          • 2 tablespoons curry paste
                          • 1 tablespoon curry powder
                          • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
                          • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
                          • 1 teaspoon chili powder
                          • 1 teaspoon salt
                          • 1 teaspoon white sugar
                          • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
                          • 1 teaspoon ginger root, minced
                          • 1 (14.25 ounce) can tomato puree

                          1. Wash the lentils in cold water until the water runs clear (this is a very important step; don't skip or shortchange it or the lentils will clump together and release a less than pleasant froth layer), put the lentils in a pot with chicken broth to cover and simmer covered until lentils tender (add more water if necessary).

                          2. While the lentils are cooking: In a large skillet or saucepan, caramelize the onions in vegetable oil.

                          3. While the onions are cooking, combine the curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, salt, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a mixing bowl. Mix well. When the onions are cooked, add the curry mixture (it isn't necessary to add it all if you want less spicy); you can always add more later) to the onions and cook over a high heat stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes.

                          4. Stir in the tomato puree and some coconut milk and reduce heat, allow the curry base to simmer until the lentils are ready.

                          5. When the lentils are tender drain them briefly (they should have absorbed most of the water but you don't want the curry to be too sloppy). Mix the curry base into the lentils and serve immediately.


                          Wine Tip
                          Try with a Gewurztraminer or off-dry Riesling.

                          I dial back on some of the spiciness by using coconut milk for some of the liquid.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: rainey

                            This sounds very good, thank you! We love Indian food and I do make other Indian dishes, but have not made anything with red lentils. Usually brown or yellow in my Indian dishes. This will be one I try.

                            1. re: gardencook

                              You're more than welcome. I hope you like it.

                          2. Interested in soup? I have a recipe for mullagatawny that I really LOVE.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: rainey

                              I would love a good mulligatawny recipe.

                              1. re: mscoffee1

                                In the summer we have this cold gazpacho style.

                                Mulligatawny Soup

                                • 2 tablespoon ghee or canola oil
                                • 1 large onion, chopped
                                • 3 tablespoon fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
                                • 1 jalapeõ chile, stemmed, seeded and chopped
                                • 1 tablespoon ground corriander
                                • 6 clove garlic, chopped
                                • 2 tablespoon ground cumin
                                • 1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
                                • 1/4 cup all purpose or garbanzo flour
                                • 1 3/4 cup red lentils
                                • 9 cup chicken stock
                                • 3 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
                                • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
                                • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
                                • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
                                • freshly ground pepper

                                1. Heat the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, ginger and jalapeño and cook, stirring, until browned, about 12 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, stir in the garlic, coriander, cumin and turmeric. Cook until fragrant, stirring, for 45 seconds. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute more.

                                2. Pour in about 2 cups of broth and cook with the veggie until they're soft. Using a stick blender, whirl until as smooth as possible. Add the rest of the broth and bring to a boil while whisking constantly. Add the lentils to the thickened broth, lower the heat and simmer, covered, until very tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit.

                                3. When the lentil mixture has cooled some, puree until smooth using an immersion blender. Stir in the cilantro. Return to the heat and bring back to a medium temperature.

                                4. Whisk in the coconut milk, lemon juice, and salt. Season to taste with pepper.


                                I prefer my soup with a little texture so I add only enough chicken broth to the aromatics to get a thickish liquid that I purée for the first time to liquify the jalapeño. Once that's done, I continue adding the broth and cooking the lentils. I cook the lentils until they are very soft. Then I purée a second time with an immersion blender, doing it only until most of the lentils are liquified. I also don't add the cilantro until after it's puréed.

                                  1. re: rainey

                                    This sounds delicious. Would it work with vegetable stock?

                                      1. re: rainey

                                        Thanks, looking forward to trying it!

                              2. Try putting 1/2 cup in your next meatloaf or ground meat dish. They soak up excess oil and pretty much disappear into the meat, adding fiber and other good stuff while extending the final yield of the dish.

                                1. Do you have, or can your husband get, the recipe for a Turkish red lentil soup that includes bulgur, lemon juice, and mint? I love it but freehand it, otherwise I'd provide a recipe.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Erika L

                                    We have some Turkish dishes, but not a soup with red lentils. I make a red lentil soup that is his favorite and our 11 year old loves, so they probably wouldn't let me get away with a different soup. LOL! It's very basic with onions, carrots, celery and some spices, but the lentils shine through and it's quite nice in spite of its simpleness. Dh adds cayenne for spice.

                                    1. re: gardencook

                                      I too make the Turkish one with lemon juice and mint, a little yogurt added on top, it's one of our favorites.

                                    2. re: Erika L

                                      This soup is ezogelin. It's a favorite of mine.

                                    3. 660 Curries has several recipes using Red Lentils. The one I love is Red Lentils with a Sweet Onion Sauce.
                                      (There is another Red Lentil recipe on kitchen adventure time site above from 660 curries, but I have not tried it).
                                      I don't know what your soup is, but this one was a revelation for me and so simple, but do not forget the lemon.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: mscoffee1

                                        I also find 660 Curries a great source for red lentil recipes; two of my favorites are Gingered Red Lentils:
                                        and Slow-Roasted Bell Pepper with Red Lentils (although I make it with red bell pepper as I'm not that fond of green bell peppers):

                                      2. This red lentil amd squash curry is great:

                                        These are a few great recipes for lentils but you need to use green or black lentils, the red aren't sturdy enough (and it looks like there are plenty of great ideas here to use the red ones!):
                                        These olive lentil patties are great, i like them on greens with avocado more than on a bun.

                                        This hearty salad is great for lunches- holds well in the fridge. I dress everything but the greens and mix the naked greens in just before eating.

                                        This recipe is a favorite, i often swap in avocado instead of cheese:

                                          1. One of my favourites is lentil rissoles. My recipe came as a freebie card from a supermarket 30 years ago and is now in my head, only without any quantities so I can't write it down! But this is the closest thing
                                            Although I would leave out the cilantro and put in extra parsley. Really dislike cilantro.

                                            1. Lots of great ideas! Thank you all so much. Really love the ethnic diversity of this legume.

                                              1. I made this one last week, and one child insisted on eating it for lunch and dinner for 3 days! The parents really liked it too, it got better the longer it sat.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: DrMag

                                                  That does sound good! We have some allergies in the house, but I think with a few tweaks, this might be a good one to try. Thank you!

                                                2. Just found this recipe for fried lentils in the Washington Post:
                                                  It is adapted from "The Heart of the Plate" by Mollie Katzen. Haven't tried it yet, so if you do, please post your thoughts.

                                                  1. Just wanted to thank you for starting this thread.
                                                    How serendipitous as I just opened my pantry to find ~ 2 lbs of red lentils in my pantry...and it's cold and drizzling outside (Midwest US).
                                                    Looks like a good night for playing in the kitchen!

                                                    1. I ended up making these:


                                                      Easy, fast and fun to make (an aside: I'm not sure what ingredient might have led to this...but let's just say consider making these when the kids are at the grandparents!).

                                                      Mostly it could have been that this was a fun "couples" recipe as once we were forming the patties and frying them, cooking happened very quickly. We found a warm oven and baking sheets lined with paper towels to work well.

                                                      I served these with a simple green salad and Cava (I find a dry sparkling wine cuts through "greasy" food).

                                                      Rewarmed the next day, I ate mine with a fried egg and avocado. Yummy.

                                                      1. I make this dal when I make Indian at home, very tasty and relatively easy.


                                                        1. @bobabear: I make red lentil "falafel" burgers a lot. I do it by feel, but any falafel recipe will do.

                                                          The trick is to soak the lentils BUT DON"T COOK THEM before grinding. This makes them stick together beautifully. They crisp nicely on the outside and stay moist on the inside.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: jfink2000

                                                            I made a vegetarian "meat"loaf with them I thought was good awhile back. Soaked but not cooked. Pulsed in the blender, then drained. Used in a standard meatloaf recipe that included eggs, rolled oats, grated onion, parsley, a bit of a ketchup. (I think it was the recipe on the Quaker oats box). Mound up in a skillet or gratin pan and bake for about a half hour. It was good hot and also cold for sandwiches.

                                                          2. Here is my version of the misir wot. A vibrant stew that is spiced with aromatic flavors that will welcome you to Ethiopia, as your palate embarks on a flavor adventure.


                                                            1½ cup Red lentils
                                                            2 cup Water
                                                            1 large Onion; finely chopped
                                                            2 tbsp. Olive oil; more or less
                                                            2 Cloves garlic; minced
                                                            2 tbsp. (or more) Berbere mix
                                                            Little water


                                                            For Misir Wot, cook 1 ½ cups red lentils in 2 cups water for about a 30 minutes. Then, sauté a large finely chopped onion in a couple tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet until clear. Add a couple minced cloves of garlic, sauté a little more, and then put in 2 tbsp. Berbere mix, and a little water to keep it from sticking. Add the cooked lentils, and cook everything on low until the lentils completely disintegrate—about 30 minutes. If you prefer the dish to look red rather than yellowish, sprinkle in some sweet paprika at the end.

                                                            1. I really like this one. First lentil dish I've made that actually comes close to Indian restaurant food!

                                                              Note: I had to look up was "passata" was. Tomato puree. I used a jar of crushed tomatoes, and it was fine.
                                                              Also, I found the amount of smoked paprika overwhelming. I recommend cutting it to half a Tbsp, or even less.