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Tamarind Lentils


Veganomicon, Isa Chandra Moskowitz ---provided by Susan B.

These lentils, a combination of savory, tangy and sweet, were a hit at our March 2010 potluck. For many it was our first experience with the fruit of the tamarind, a tropical tree that produces long seed pods. Susan used French green lentils, which keep their shape better than brown lentils.


44 ml 3 T. coconut or peanut oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 large onion, diced
5 ml1 tsp. garam masala
2 ml1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
generous pinch of cayenne
240 ml1 c. dried lentils, picked over and rinsed (black or French green lentils are recommended)
470 ml2 c. vegetable broth or water
10 ml2 tsp. concentrated tamarind syrup or paste
15 ml1 T. pure maple syrup or agave nectar
30 ml2 T. tomato paste
2 ml1/2 tsp. salt

basmati rice if desired


In a heavy-bottomed medium-size pot with a lid, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and let sizzle for 30 seconds. Add the onion and fry until translucent and soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the garam masala, cumin seeds, and cayenne, and stir for another 30 seconds until the spices smell fragrant. Add the lentils and vegetable broth, increase the heat to high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir and lower the heat to medium-low. Partially cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils have absorbed most of the liquid and are very tender. The lentils will be very thick; add a few tablespoons of water if a thinner consistency is desired.

In a small cup or bowl, combine the tamarind, maple syrup, tomato paste, and salt. Use a rubber spatula to scrape all of the mixture into the lentils; stir to completely dissolve the flavorings. Simmer the mixture for another 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust the salt to taste and serve immediately.


The lentils may be served alone or over basmati rice. In the photo, the lentils are served with kale, tomato, and basil as well as rice.

Major Ingredients: