Lentils and Basmati with Tamarind, Coconut, Cilantro and Black Caraway

By • December 29, 2010 • 8 Comments

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Author Notes: About a month ago, I took a wonderful Vegetarian Indian cooking class. Everything we made – Lentil Sambar, Vegetable Buriyani, Potato Curry, Tomato Chutney – was delicious, but the dish that knocked my socks off in terms of subtle, yet amazing flavor was a simple Mung bean salad with lemon, coconut cilantro, black mustard and curry leaf. Here is my version, using du Puy lentils (the mung beans still had a bite to them so I wanted to use a lentil that held its shape) and basmati rice for a complete protein. I have kept the coconut and cilantro but changed up the tempered dressing using tamarind paste and black caraway seeds for sour and nutty notes that complement the cilantro and coconut. The result is a refreshing salad that is easy to make, flavorful and equally delicious the next day. Note: If refrigerating overnight, be sure to allow dish to come to room temperature before serving. - gingerrootgingerroot

Food52 Review: Gingerroot has engineered a very cool salad -- it's hearty but refreshing, and very easy to pull together, especially if you're already stocked on Indian ingredients. You might think the tamarind dressing skews a little sour on its own, but the nigella seeds give it depth, the lime juice and cilantro lighten everything up and it all comes out very balanced and subtle and almost impossible to stop eating.Kristen

Serves serves 4-6 as a light vegetarian lunch or dinner side

For the lentil-rice salad

  • 1 cup Basmati rice, rinsed in two changes of water
  • 1/2 cup du Puy lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 T chopped fresh cilantro, including stems
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice

for the tempered dressing

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon black caraway seeds (also known as nigella seeds)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tamarind paste (I used Neera’s brand – tamarind fruit without pulp or seeds)
  • 3 teaspoons water
  1. In a small saucepan, combine washed rice, lentils and water. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook until tender and water has evaporated, about 25 minutes. Fluff and transfer to a large bowl to cool.
  2. In a skillet, temper dressing by heating vegetable oil over medium heat. Add black caraway seeds and cook for about a minute. Seeds should sputter a bit. Remove from heat; add tamarind paste and water, stirring to combine.
  3. Pour dressing over rice and fold to mix thoroughly. Fold in coconut and cilantro. Add lime juice and salt (to taste). Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!
Jump to Comments (8)

Tags: delicious, gluten-free, light, refreshing, travels well, Vegetarian

Comments (8) Questions (1)


about 4 years ago tbrixius

this is very delicious! i've made it twice already this week...thanks!


almost 4 years ago gingerroot

Somehow I missed this...thanks so much! I'm thrilled you tried it and enjoyed it.


about 4 years ago Sagegreen

This sounds delicious. Love du Puy lentils. I had forgotten all about black caraway. A friend of mine will visit the market in Istanbul next month and has offered to bring me back spices. This will be on the list!


about 4 years ago gingerroot

Thanks, Sagegreen. Let me know what you think if you try it!


about 4 years ago gingerroot

Thanks, hardlikearmour and Shaya! It is incredibly light, with a lovely subtle contrast of flavor from the sweet coconut, sour tamarind, citrusy cilantro and nutty caraway. I would love to know your thoughts if you try it.


about 4 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I've got this on my list for the next time I cook for my vegan friend. I'll let you know how it goes.


about 4 years ago Shaya

Wow, this looks delicious!


about 4 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I think this recipe sounds even better than your last lentil recipe. Nice job!