One day while walking through the local Costco someone handed my daughter one of those little Madras Lentil samples. I was expecting her to taste it and promptly spit it out. After all, she is only 2 and I think at the time she was like 21 months old or something like that. So imagine my shock when she tasted it and then tasted it again and then licked the sample cup clean and asked for MORE. We bought two boxes. Heck, it’s affordable, relatively healthy, easy to make and not full of too much junk. We went through those boxes quickly and she enjoyed them, but they didn’t have the zing we kept expecting. So, I decided to try making something which would and this is what I came up with. Aside from being super cheap, lentils being very affordable and what not, you can freeze this into mason jars and reheat easily to make a quick and healthy weeknight meal. For that reason these usually end up being a part of my weekly meal prep.
With only 6 main ingredients this is also a very simple recipe to make. The truth is, while I outline a method which sautés the veggies, you could just as easily dump all of this into a pot/slow cooker/instapot and cook until the lentils are soft. One time, I made this with frozen pre-chopped onions, frozen pre-chopped peppers and that garlic paste which comes frozen in little cubes. I dumped all the ingredients in the pot and just let it boil until the lentils were soft and the right thickness. It was still awesome. When possible, I do make the effort to sauté the veggies as it does give it a deeper flavor which I think is worth the 5 minutes. That said, if you’ve got 5 minutes before you leave the house to dump things in a slow cooker, you’ll still got a great meal that way.
2 Cups Dry Red Lentils
1/2 Bottle Tikka Masala Paste
1/2 Large Red Onion
3 Cloves Garlic Diced
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
2 Diced Red Bell Peppers
2 Tbs Olive Oil – for frying the veggies
8 Cups water
Salt to Taste
1. Place pan over high heat
2. Add Olive Oil, Onions and Peppers. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Sauté until browned around the edges.
3. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Be careful not to burn it. 30-45 seconds should do.
4. Add the Tikka Masala Paste and stir until well incorporated. Another 30 or so seconds.
5. Add the can of tomatoes and stir in. Another 30 or so seconds.
6. Taste and adjust seasonings, aka does it need more salt
7. Add the lentils and stir so they are covered well with the sauce
8. Add just8 cups of water
9. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer
10. Simmer for 45 minutes. Check the water level every so often as lentils will absorb more or less water depending on how fresh they were to start with.
11. Once the lentils are soft they are done. If you want a thicker consistency you can keep cooking them until that is reached. Alternately you can add more water if you’d like it to be thinner/soupier. Do keep in mind as they sit they thicken so if you go too thick, you’ll have slop vs soup.
12. Serve with bread or rice
13. Apply to face
As a note, if you store these in Mason jars, make sure you leave space for expansion. It is NO fun when you make a huge batch and then they crack your mason jars in the fridge 😦
Recipe can be doubled easily and I often do so to make enough to freeze for the month.