Meatless Monday: Everyday Red Lentils

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I first saw this recipe on The Dr. Oz Show.  (Just ask Hubby about Dr. Oz 😀 )  I became addicted to interested in the show when Munchkin was a newborn.  He was a frequent and lengthy nurser, and in the beginning, I was able to pass the time enjoying daytime TV.  (Once he got more aware of his surroundings, around 3 months or so, I had to stop multitasking with anything that made noise.)

Let me just tell you that daytime TV is not as exciting as I thought it would be.  All of the morning shows feature the same circuit of celebrities promoting their latest work.  But, The Dr. Oz Show, and The Ellen Degeneres show of course, stayed on my list.  I like how short each segment is, so I get the overview of a topic; then, I can hit “Pause” and move on to something else.  While a lot of the topics are in one ear and out the other, I do enjoy hearing the latest in health and nutrition, whether or not I subscribe to the latest trend.

So, I saw this recipe on the show, and it looked amazing.  It’s supposedly a go-to staple in Indian cooking.  However, Indian food has always puzzled me.  We don’t eat a lot of Indian food.  (My first experience with Indian food was disappointing, and it took many years for me to give it another try.)  If I’m not familiar with it in a restaurant, how am I supposed to cook it at home?  I finally worked up the nerve to try this out, and was I ever surprised.  It really was easy.  (Don’t let the multiple steps fool you.) And, it really was delicious!  Even Hubby approved!  Hubby is a good sport and will eat just about anything I make.  We usually just qualify our approval of a dish with whether or not we would want to eat it again.  If the answer is no, we toss the recipe.  Ironically, tonight I mentioned that I thought it was missing a little something – as in, maybe I didn’t put enough salt in at the end.  Hubby replied, “Yeah, like some chicken!”  😀  Chicken, or any other meat for that matter, WOULD make a great addition if you’re looking for something a little heartier (and not on Meatless Monday 😉 ).  Another great addition would be some naan or roti bread fresh out of the oven!

Everyday Red Lentils

as seen on The Dr. Oz Show, my comments in red


  • 1 cup masoor dal red lentils, picked through for stones
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 serrano chile, sliced in 1/2, optional
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds (I used ground yellow mustard)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder (generous amount)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika or bafaat powder (I used Indian masala – my paprika was nowhere to be found; pantry organization is on another list.  🙂   Also, this ingredient is included on Food Network’s version of this recipe.  I’ll explain this discrepancy in a later post.)
  • Handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil


For the lentils: Put the lentils in a strainer and rinse them under running water. Add them to a bowl, cover with water and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of water, the onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chile, if using, and the lentils. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim any scum from the surface. Lower the heat, cover the pot with a lid and gently simmer until the lentils are tender, almost translucent, and almost falling apart, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Whisk the lentils, releasing its natural starch, and mash some of them so the mixture becomes thick. Add salt, to taste.

For the tempering oil (bagaar): In a small bowl, combine the cumin and mustard seeds. In another bowl, combine the spice powders. Have all the ingredients ready because this will move very fast!

In a small skillet, over a medium-high flame, warm 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add seeds and immediately cover. Add the spices. Don’t let them burn. The mixture should bloom for about 30 seconds, no more.

Pour the oil mixture into the lentils, standing back so you don’t get hurt when the mixture splutters. Stir to combine. Transfer the lentils to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro.

Tonight, I am serving the lentils with a side of Ina Garten’s String Beans with Shallots.


  • 1 pound French string beans (haricots verts), ends removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 3 large shallots, large-diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Blanch the string beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1 1/2 minutes only. Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water.

Heat the butter and oil in a very large saute pan (12-inch diameter) or large pot and saute the shallots on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned. Drain the string beans and add to the shallots with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper, tossing well. Heat only until the beans are hot.  (Make sure to drizzle ALL of the oil and butter when serving!)

If you’re using regular string beans, blanch them for about 3 minutes, until they’re crisp-tender.
Everyday Red Lentils with

Everyday Red Lentils and String Beans with Shallots

Bon appétit!

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