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Ottolenghi Spiced Red Lentils

Preparation 15 min Cook Time 40 min Total Time 0:55

Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. Don't be intimidated by the long ingredient list and the few unusual ingredients. This is a simple dish with a wonderful, complex flavor. If you can't find fenugreek or asafetida, it's fine to omit them.


  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 bunch cilantro (3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 3 1/2 cups peeled chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek (optional)
  • Pinch of asafetida (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons butter (optional)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon


  • Rinse the lentils well under running water, then place them in a bowl with the water and soak for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, finely chop the cilantro (including stems), onion, and garlic, and grate the ginger. Set the cilantro aside.
  • Place the mustard seeds in a 5-quart Dutch oven or other pot with a heavy bottom, and cook over medium heat until they begin to pop. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and olive oil. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, paprika, and curry leaves, and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.
  • Add the lentils and their soaking water, the tomatoes, honey, fenugreek, and salt, and stir to blend. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are fully cooked.
  • Stir in the butter, lemon or lime juice, and cilantro. Serve hot.


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