From Julia Turshen's Small Victories, these lentils come together in about 30 minutes, are deeply satisfying, and could be vegan if you leave out the yogurt. Naan is also really nice on the side here.
Re lentils: I like to use a mix of French green lentils and red split lentils. It's faster if you use solely the red split lentils, but I love the texture offered by the French green ones when they're part of the mix. It's completely delicious both ways, so use what you have. Do plan a little bit more ahead if you use the French green lentils — they may take as long as 45 minutes to cook if not longer. —Alexandra Stafford
extra-virgin olive oil
minced peeled fresh ginger
garlic cloves, minced
shallot or small onion, minced
cumin seeds or ground cumin
(180 g) split red lentils or other (see notes above)
13.5-ounce (398-ml) can full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
Cooked basmati rice, plain yogurt, chopped fresh cilantro, and naan for serving
In This Recipe
In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the ginger, garlic, shallot (or onion), coriander, cumin, and turmeric and cook, stirring now and then, until the vegetables are softened and the spices are very fragrant, about 10 minutes.
Add the lentils, coconut milk, and 1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt (Note: if you are sensitive to salt or using table salt or even Morton's kosher salt, which is saltier than Diamond Crystal kosher salt, start with 1 teaspoon, then add more to taste—I use Diamond Crystal and so typically use 2, but use your judgement), then fill the empty coconut-milk can with water and add it to the saucepan. It will look like a lot of liquid, but the lentils will absorb it as they cook. Stir everything together, turn the heat to high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to low and let the lentils simmer, stirring now and then, until they’re completely soft, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt. (Note: If you're using those French green lentils, you will need to cook this longer, 30 to 45 minutes. Just keep tasting to see when the lentils are cooked through. You may or may not need to add more water.)
Serve the lentils hot over rice. Top each serving with a spoonful of yogurt and a sprinkle of cilantro. A side of naan is nice, too.