janet @ the taste space

Tamarind Lentils

In Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on January 5, 2011 at 6:22 AM

I went home for the holidays, which among many other things, means I was able to cook a lot! I can try a lot of new recipes when I am feeding 4 people, instead of just me. But before I get to my tasty holiday dishes, allow me to introduce you one from the quasi-archives.

This recipe hails back to last May. I spotted the recipe for Tamarind Lentils in Veganomicon, when I borrowed it from the library. I returned the cookbook, but kept the recipe in anticipation of making it soon.

While I can bake homemade strudel and Turkish baklava, and cook spaetzle, I still struggle with rice.  Rob was very encouraging, and lent me his rice cooker for the project.

However, this recipe was filled with ingredients that I find in my pantry, so I never had a burning desire to make it. Summer came, with its bountiful produce, and it was pushed to the side.

I eventually made another recipe from Veganomicon, Chickpeas Romesco, filled with roasted red peppers, tomatoes and almonds. As I was googling to see if anyone had typed up the recipe before me, I spotted it on Google Books. Low and behold, the Tamarind Lentils and Chickpeas Romesco were on the same page! I giggled to myself, as I still had the rice cooker, months later. And while I made rice for the Chickpeas Romesco, I hadn’t yet made the Tamarind Lentils. I shared the irony with Rob, the rice cooker-lender.

Rob loves tamarind, declared the recipe to be fit for his own kitchen, and stole the rice cooker back! Thankfully, he invited me over to share in the loot – and it was delicious. Tangy tamarind with warm and savoury spices coated lentils in a soupy sauce. It was so good, he offered to make it for a potluck I was hosting at my place the following weekend. Because he wanted to serve freshly cooked rice, he brought the rice cooker back to my place. And there it remained for another few months.

November rolled around and I still have the rice cooker, without having made Tamarind Lentils myself. But lots of rice, mind you.

Trust me, Rob knew he could have his rice cooker back at any time.  After I lent him 660 Curries, he decided enough was enough. Curries demand rice. And lots of rice demands a rice cooker. He wanted his rice cooker back!

And of course, when I returned from Morocco in December, with a kitchen nearly completely devoid of produce (although lovingly stocked with some leftover soup courtesy of Rob), the first dish I made was tamarind lentils. Without a rice cooker. And while the tamarind lentils were as delicious as I remembered, the rice was not! A bit too soupy/sticky, but palatable nonetheless.

Thankfully, Rob has agreed to come over to cook my rice next time.

Although, I am still (not so secretly) pining a 3-in-1 rice cooker/pressure cooker/slow cooker.

This is my submission Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring coconut oil, and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Simona. Rob also gets props for taking a better photo (top photo) of the tamarind lentils.

Tamarind Lentils

1 tbsp coconut oil (Rob uses coconut oil, but olive oil worked fine for me)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
(or replace the above spices with 2 tsp garam masala)
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/4 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
1 cup dried lentils (black or green)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp concentrated tamarind paste (soaked in water and strained if using tamarind pulp)
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup rice, prepared how you make rice (or your favourite grain)

1. In a heavy-bottom medium-sized pot with a lid, heat oil over low medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger, and let sizzle for 30 seconds. Add the onion and fry until translucent and soft, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, cumin, cumin seeds and chili flakes, and stir for another 30 seconds until the spices smell fragrant.

2. Add the lentils and 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 25-30 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.

3. 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 flavourings. Simmer the mixture for another 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust salt, if desired, and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

  1. this looks sooo good right now. i am going to try this tonight with parathas.

  2. this is a good one ! will go well with phulkas !!

  3. I love the Veganomicon! Excellent resource.

    I would also love a 3 in 1 rice cooker. But it you do not get on with rice cooking I really recommend a microwave steamer mine was one of the best £8 I have ever spent and consistently produces perfect rice, and importantly cooks brown rice in a fraction of the time!

    • ooh.. thanks for the tip, Helen! I will have to investigate that microwave steamer.. it won’t help for slow cooking or pressure cooking, though, but it sounds like it could help with my rice woes! 🙂

  4. When I made it, I made a few revisions. I didn’t have maple syrup, so I just used honey. I didn’t use all of those individual spices (cardomom, cumin, etc.) but used some premade garam malasa, instead. Right now, I have a really nice tin of garam masala from Arvindas (http://www.arvindas.com/). And, as you can see from the photo, I ate my tamarind lentils with parathas instead of rice. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it, Kamana.

    Thanks for using my photo, Saveur. Yours look good, too! 🙂

  5. I’m not the biggest tamarind fan, but I do love lentils and I adore the sound of all the other ingredients in here, so I think I’m sold! Sounds like a good dish to start the new year off with, nice and healthy!

  6. Wat a healthy and nutritious lentils..

  7. I adore the sweet tangy flavor of tamarind so I know I would LOVE this dish! Rob certainly is a nice guy…does he have a rice cooker he wants to lend me?

  8. Thanks for the pumpkin soup comment Janet–just wanted to warn you not to use butternut squash. I tried it already and it was too sweet for the recipe. Had to add tons more miso/lemon to cover up the flavor of the butternut (mentioned this in the recipe but you probably didn’t read all the way through).

    Just wanted to head you off at the pass 🙂

  9. Oh my goodness, this looks so delish! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story and recipe. I back and forth of the rice cooker cracks me up! I am happy to see your submission to this month’s challenge, you always have such ROCKIN recipes. xo Kim

  10. Oh yeah, and 660 Curries is one of my favorite cookbooks ever!!!!! Amazing. Totally inspiring. Yummo!

  11. Wow, does this ever look fantastic. I adore lentils to begin with, but in this preparation. . . whoah! Wishing I could eat tamarind!!

  12. tamarind: aka, something I need to put on my to-try list this year. Keep it comin’!

  13. The lentils are going to do really well with the parathas 🙂 So good!

  14. Yum! This is going on the list!

  15. The comings and goings of the rice cooker make a really nice story. And the lentils sound excellent. I have seen coconut oil in the store, but never tried it: now I am starting to get curious. Thanks for your contribution to MLLA!

  16. What an interesting lentil dish! And I’m always looking for lentil dishes. I have Veganomicon but I rarely feel inspired to cook from it. :/ I hope you share photos from Morocco! (Maybe you have and I haven’t gotten to the post yet.)

  17. Oh and while I don’t have a 3 in 1 pressure cooker/rice cooker/slow cooker, I think my rice cooker can also be a slow cooker (though for some reason I’m scared of using it as one) and can also steam cakes! Though I haven’t made any cakes in it..

  18. I always used to make rice in the microwave. Never had any problems. Nowadays I rarely eat it: it’s very low in nutrients, ecologically terrible, and not very flavourful either. I just can’t justify eating it (except for in sushi sometimes…). If I want a grain, I’ll go for bulgur or quinoa. But I’m not supposed to eat even those any more and I rather eat some real food in place of them (like broccoli or green beans or something).

    I still haven’t got around to making either recipe from Veganomicon. But I like tamarind, so maybe I should fix that.

  19. […] time making recipes that are purely from pantry staples (except after returning from vacation and being welcomed by an empty […]

  20. […] and rice separately, although in my case the rice cooker was already in use and we all know I have trouble cooking rice on the stovetop. More traditionally, though, some recipes, including the one in Olive Trees and […]

  21. […] I have made some great Indian food, Rob’s kitchen territory reigns in India. He loves spicy and anything curry, whereas I prefer […]

  22. […] rice cooker/pressure cooker/slow cooker ($100). This is probably the only thing on this list that I do not personally own. I currently have 2/3s of it: Rob’s rice cooker and a borrowed slow cooker. What better way […]

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  25. […] favourites. Rob’s Repeater Recipes as I have tagged them on the site: Dal Bhat, Besan Chilla, Tamarind Lentils and this Creamy Broccoli Dal from Vegan Yum Yum. Why mess with success? They fall under “you […]

  26. […] Do you have a signature dish for special occasions? Any favourite recipes for tamarind? We also really like tamarind lentils. […]

  27. […] adding tamarind to banana soft serve! In the end, the recipe that immediate caught my eye was Janet’s tamarind lentils, which are inspired by Isa’s tamarind lentils in Veganomicon. I love savory legume dishes, […]

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  29. […] also revisited some old favourites like tamarind lentils and my lemon-ginger miso soup (Rob’s addition were carrots, parsnips with some noodles and I […]

  30. […] I have enough fore-thought and energy to make my snacks at the end of the week. Rob makes us tamarind lentils to go. In theory, this should give us more time so we can leave earlier Saturday morning. In […]

  31. […] quickly gravitated to make old favourites: Tamarind Lentils, Pad Thai, and Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Salad. Then, finally itching to make something new, I […]

  32. […] of my favourites have already been shared  (Tamarind Lentils, Bengali Cauliflower Dal, Creamy Broccoli Dal, and Root Veggie Curry), so it does not surprise me […]

  33. […] of a creature of habit than me, Rob has been cooking through our favourites, Dal Bhat, Tamarind Lentils and innumerable batches of Creamy Broccoli […]

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