Lemon Lentils

There is nothing visually about this dish that will convince anyone of its deliciousness.  Even to look at the list of ingredients there seems to be nothing significant that will give a big flavour hit.  But take my word, this is a subtle dish that just works so beautifully that is hard to stop eating.

Just a couple of weeks ago I made a batch just for myself to eat for several weekday lunches but I left it sitting on the table to cool and it was consumed within an hour.  Matilda and Essie kept coming in for spoonfuls, I kept ‘tasting’ and then Joel got home from work and it was all gone before dinner.

If lentils are new to you then this is a very straight forward recipe to try.  Joel had never grown up eating lentils but is now a convert.  In fact, when I served a lentil pie to Joel’s family, his dad enjoyed it and said “this beef is very tender”.  I, however, grew up eating lentils in almost every meal which led the observant kids who lived over the back from our house to label my sisters and me ‘the lentil girls’.

There are many types of lentils that could be used but I have only tried this with red lentils and the Australian green lentil.  The original recipe calls for the red lentil which makes this more like a traditional dahl and I do make it like this often.  But I prefer the more substantial Australian Green lentil which is similar to any brown lentils.  It keeps its shape whereas the red lentil seems to melt away into mush but it is delicious mush.  The photo below is with red lentils and you will see there is a big difference in the texture. With brown and green lentils, be sure to start this the day before and soak the lentils overnight.

Be sure to season well as the flavours won’t come out if the dish is lacking salt. It is best to only add salt once the lentils are cooked.  An extra squeeze of lemon juice at the end is also a good way to finish the dish.  And whatever you do, take the time to finish off the dish properly with the onions sauteed in oil, garlic, chilli and bay leaves.  The flavoured oil tossed through the lentils just before serving makes this dish.

lemon lentils

(adapted from Ismail Merchant’s book ‘Passionate Meals’)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely sliced
1 small knob of ginger, finely chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
250g Australian Green lentils, soaked in water overnight and drained
3 cups vegetable stock
juice from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
1 long red chilli, finely sliced
2 bay leaves
coriander leaves to serve

Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan.  Fry the onion, ginger and cinnamon sticks over a low heat until the onions have softened.  Tip in the soaked and drained lentils and stir for a couple of minutes.  Pour in the stock and half the lemon juice.  Bring to the boil then leave to simmer, uncovered, for about 50 – 60 minutes or until lentils are cooked through.

Season the lentils to taste with remaining lemon juice and salt.

In a frypan, heat the extra vegetable oil and saute the onion, garlic, chilli and bay leaves until the onions are softened.  Add this onion mix to the lentils and stir through.  Scatter the coriander leaves over the top and serve with some rice, or salad, or as part of an Indian feast.

This entry was posted in Cheap and Cheerful, Sides, Vegetarian. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Lemon Lentils

  1. Anna says:

    Am definitely going to try this one – looks great!

  2. Made this for dinner tonight – delicious! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Beth says:

    We love lentils in our house and I’m happy to add another idea to the list. I wonder if you’ve used the tins of brown lentils Natalie. I sometimes need the speed of a quick dish and always have these in the cupboard.

    • natalie says:

      I would give tinned lentils a go Beth! Just use much less stock, maybe even just 1/2 a cup. Then cook until warmed through, adding more stock if needed. That would be one speedy dinner.

    • natalie says:

      Beth I just made this with 2 tins of lentils – could have even used 3 but it was brilliant. Just use half a cup to 3/4 of cup of stock. Really quick and really yum! Thanks for the idea!

      • Beth says:

        Great. Guess what’s for dinner tomorrow? Always after speedy stuff on a Wednesday as it’s a work day and after school care, so everyone is tired and starving. My slow cooker is often used but it’s good to have a change.

  4. Fiona rollason says:

    Hi Nat
    I made this today and served it with quinoa and also a tomato, cucumber,red onion and capsicum salad. Yum, very filling and tasty. Nice to try lentils for the first time also. The fresh coriander on top did it for me.
    Love your blog….and easy recipes! I also made your butter cut out cookies for a special afternoon tea today. Very easy and very yummy! I froze some dough for Kate to roll, cut and bake during the holidays also.

    • natalie says:

      What a good way to try lentils for the first time! I’m glad Kate is going to get into some baking too. Levi and Tilly made a batch last week and cut them with snowflake and Christmas tree cookie cutters. I filled two piping bags with icing – one red and one green. Hideous colours but they had such a ball icing them all by themselves and then we popped a biscuit into little individual celophane bags to give to class mates. I prefer just a dusting of caster sugar just before baking but they certianly did look festive.

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