Curried Lentil Dip

By • December 26, 2010 42 Comments

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Author Notes: There were only 2 happy moments on my worst vacation ever taken -- one was when the hurricane ended. The second was when my friend and I were eating Curried Lentil dip at this little beach-side restaurant in Negril, while we heard Bob Marley covers playing from the dance club next door. When we returned from that sad trip, I was obsessed with re-creating the flavor of that one good night. After much experimentation I came up with this recipe - just spicy enough from the herbs, and just creamy enough from the coconut milk to be a fantastic starter, or serve as a lovely side dish. - safenervine safenervine

Food52 Review: A dip that could also serve as a hearty side or a fortifying soup, safenervine's dish is full of happy surprises. We love the technique of skimming the coconut butter from the top of the coconut milk to sauté the onions, garlic and ginger, and the hot spice oil adds a vibrant finish. Don't be alarmed when your "red" lentils melt into a buttery yellow mass -- the cilantro brings a welcome hit of green, as well as an element of freshness. The second time around, we added a spritz of lemon juice to finish the dip and really liked the results. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 can of Coconut Milk
  • 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils (rinsed)
  • 1 Onion, large, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic, minced
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin, turmeric, cumin, and black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Garam Masala Curry Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2-3 Bay Leaves
  • 3 tablespoons Cilantro (fresh), chopped
  • Sweet Potato Chips (optional)
  1. Place can of coconut milk in freezer 20 minutes before starting to cook. Open can and remove solidified coconut butter from the top to use in sautéing. Reserve the rest of the coconut milk.
  2. In a sieve rinse lentils and drain.
  3. In a 2-quart heavy saucepan cook onion, garlic, and a couple pinches of salt in 2 tablespoons coconut milk fat over moderate heat, stirring, until golden.
  4. Add ginger and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  5. Add lentils, coconut milk, chicken stock and 1 1/2 cups water and gently boil, uncovered, until lentils fall apart, about 20 minutes.
  6. While lentils are cooking, take a small heavy skillet and heat the olive oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and cook cumin, stirring, until a shade darker, about 30 seconds.
  7. Add garam masala and other remaining spices and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds. Stir hot spice oil into lentils.
  8. Let curry stand, covered, 5 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Stir in cilantro and add salt to taste.
  9. Serve with either Sweet Potato Chips or as a side dish.

More Great Recipes: Beans & Legumes|Appetizers|Snacks|Curries|Lentils

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Comments (42) Questions (2)


6 months ago LE BEC FIN

Hi safe, I know I missed this originally, but congrats for your contest win! Looks terrific. I do have 2 questions:
--Why not saute the spices with the ginger and THEN follow with step 5?
That's what my Indian friiiends do.
-- Do you find pink/red lentils gritty and brown lentils more creamy?(Maybe when I cooked pink lentils they were old.) Thx for your help!


11 months ago jeb

this was delicious. although i was confused as to when to add the spice i actually made it soon after the ginger, put that in, and then at the end it wasn't spiced enough, so i made another half batch of the oil and added that right at the end and it made it really sing and i thought did need that punch. i used 3/4 can of the coconut milk as i thought it would be coconut-y, and veggie stock. all in all, delicious. thank you.


over 1 year ago ghainskom

Oh.My.God. This was delishoos. Athough I have to say, My 6 yo didn't like it the day made, tasted id again the next day and loved it too. So letting it stay definitely allows the flavors to grow together. My color was also more brownish than green but really, once you smell it, that's not an issue anymore. Great recipe!


almost 2 years ago LeeLeeBee

We love this recipe! I usually serve it as a soup, which requires about three cups of chicken broth. It's also a handy way to absorb any leftover veggies - our favorite additions are chopped sweet potatoes and kale. I've also gotten lazy a few times and dumped in the spices with the ginger, which worked well.


about 2 years ago Ham

This dip is delicious -- something I would confidently bring to any potluck. While mine turned green after adding the spices, it soon transformed into a greenish-brown color. Not a beautiful sight at the dinner table, but nobody cared after tasting it with the sweet potato chips. As mentioned, it would also be a very good side.


about 2 years ago kgindermaur

I love this recipe! I served it with sweet potato chips as suggested at a party and it was a big hit. Love the subtle sweetness of the cinnamon and other spices. Lentils are great!


over 2 years ago Risa B

This was really tasty! The spices gave it good flavor and a bit of a kick, and I always love a dip that breaks from the ordinary. Mine never turned green, which was disappointing. I also cooked it for an hour instead of the 20 minutes, and the lentils still did not really fall apart - maybe I should use a bigger pot next time? As it was, they were practically overflowing my 2qt. At any rate, the flavor definitely merits another try for texture perfection.


over 2 years ago susan g

Risa, did you use red lentils? They are peeled and split, and they usually cook quickly to the point of breaking down. And, next time I make it, I want to try AJ's soup suggestion.


over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Just to follow up -- I prepared this using a luscious vegetable stock made with the skin of a roasted butternut squash and some roasted onion trimmings (and no chicken stock). I thought the coconut flavor was too strong; next time -- and there will be a next time, because my guests really enjoyed this -- I'll use about half, or perhaps less. We had quite a bit left over, so I used it to make soup, adding an equal amount of the same stock, and about a cup of pureed roasted butternut squash. Outstanding! ;o)


over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Served this as part of our all-vegan Super Bowl fare. Everyone liked this, though I thought the coconut flavor was a bit too strong. I'd use about half, next time, and cut the water initially, adding more only if necessary. (I had to simmer this much longer than the recipe suggests, to get the right consistency.) And it definitely needs a squeeze of lemon or lime to brighten up the flavors. ;o)


over 2 years ago simplyrenee

brilliant dish! we served this with a salad and triangular, broiled flour tortillas used as the dipping agent. my nine year old loved it saying "yum" numerous times throughout the meal


almost 3 years ago Jnoe

We also ate this in Negril and loved it! I made your recipe and it is pretty close, I did however use a blender after I cooked it. Also I loved the fried plantains they served with this in Jamaica so I used those instead. Just slice thin and deep fry. Delicious , thank you for sharing. I was looking everywhere for this recipe!


about 3 years ago susan g

I made this to see how it would turn out. First, I wondered how the red lentils could turn from creamy yellow to green -- even though I was out of cilantro, it works. Then, I wondered how that much water would result in a dip -- it does, though if I wanted it thicker I would cut the water, but not by much. Finally, flavor; would I be happy with every bite? Yes, this is a keeper.


about 4 years ago bottomupfood

I think cumin is listed twice in the ingredients?


over 4 years ago jaime_m

Tried this tonight as a soup (used about 4 c of chicken stock and no water - mostly because I didn't want to have a partial carton of stock left over), and it was delicious. And my almost-2-year-old drank the entire contents of her bowl - a big compliment! Thanks.


over 4 years ago Phoenix Helix

I tried this recipe tonight as a soup, and found it too spicy for that purpose. I quickly got some bread & used it as a dip instead. I recommend this recipe for those who like heat! My favorite step was creating the flavored oil at the end - a sensory treat for the eyes & nose.


over 4 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

you should submit this for the best dip contest!


over 4 years ago nutcakes

I made this tonight for future use, and although it seems like a simple recipe, I ended up having many questions. Is it meant to be served warm as a dip or room temp? I do like the flavor, especially the prominent coconut flavor, but I thought the lentil still too firm, so I am cooking it a bit more. I can't quite see it as a dip, although the sweet potato chips sound great. More like a side dal. I'm not adding the cilantro yet because I'm not serving it today. How does that work when you reheat it if you put it in initally? I know to use the coconut solids as fat, but I liked the trick to freeze it a bit to get it separated better. Were the Bay Leaves supposed to be whole in the oil? I preferred to put a couple into the lentils while they were cooking. I tinkered with the spices till I got what I liked--I started with dal makhani spice mix and added garam masala, cinnamon and hot pepper. I would live liked a green chile pepper in this. I will reply again if the Indian or the Dieter have any comments. Overall good job.


over 4 years ago safenervine

Thanks for your notes nutcakes. Answers to your questions. You should cook this until the lentils fall apart. Time is approximate and depends on each cook. Bay leaves were meant to be in the oil, but you can certainly cook them in the lentils if you prefer- however the trick is to try and flavor the oil to enhance the flavor of and better distribute the spices. And for serving, this can be either room temperature or hot. If you make it ahead, it does develop its flavors a little more.


over 4 years ago wanderash

ooohhhh I can smell this cooking as i read it. yum! I am always looking for new dips-- this looks like a winner!


over 4 years ago LazizaBites

love the fusion of West and East Indies!
I altered it a bit, because I don't like too much coconut taste, so I used olive oil to start the saute, and added 1/2 can of coconut milk later -
great taste and result - thank you!


over 4 years ago monkeymom

Looks so good! congrats to you!


over 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Congrats on the EP and on being a finalist! This sounds very yummy!


over 4 years ago SusanMurie

I meant to say I can't wait to try it...


over 4 years ago SusanMurie

Cumin is listed twice. Should there be another spice instead?
This looks wonderful and I can't to try it.


over 4 years ago safenervine

Oops. Didn't mean to list cumin twice. I meant to say ground cumin OR cumin seeds but I suppose i missed that when entering the recipe. Thanks and enjoy!


over 4 years ago honor_ford

Love you dante!!! good luck!!!


over 4 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Congrats. This dip sounds delicious!


over 4 years ago Dford

Delicious amount of heat to this "dip". I loved from the moment it hit my mouth. Yet another wonderful recipe from safenervine!


over 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

This sounds fantastic - congrats!


over 4 years ago Midge

Sounds terrific! Congrats!


over 4 years ago gingerroot

Congratulations on being a finalist! This sounds so good. Looking forward to trying it soon!


over 4 years ago kulsum Kunwa

This sounds and looks wonderful! Quite a twist.


over 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations--lovely recipe!


over 4 years ago vegetarianirvana

Sounds like a taste and flavor packed dip. Congratulations


over 4 years ago Sadassa_Ulna

This sounds so good, can't wait to try it!


over 4 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

OK I am making this for my neice's baby shower buffet - yum!!!!


over 4 years ago nannydeb

This looks tasty! Congratulations!


over 4 years ago IndianSimmer

That's a great recipe! Congratulations to you and good luck!


over 4 years ago Table9

Congratulations on being a finalist! This looks wonderful. Cannot wait to try it.


over 4 years ago safenervine



over 4 years ago mford4

We tried this and it was wonderful!