Spiced Red Lentils



This recipe has everything. Literally.

I recently asked Twitter if anyone had any requests, and one response was for a lentil dish ‘the spicier the better’.

I’m not saying I went overboard with the flavourings, but here’s footage of me working on the recipe:

grabbing stuff

Me selecting herbs and spices from the spice drawer.

With an armful of different herbs and spices, it packs a major flavour wallop and makes a very flavoursome one-pot meal.

Red lentils simmered gently in a richly spiced tomato sauce, are supplemented by potato wedges and juicy, fresh red peppers. The contrast in flavours and textures is a delight. Carnivores may like to serve with some sausages – regular, merguez, chorizo, etc – but it’s also very satisfying as a vegetarian meal.

Spiced Red Lentils

This will serve four generously. You can probably stretch it to six with a few extra potatoes and/or rice. It reheats very well, and can be stored for several days in the fridge. For longer-term storage, you could leave out the peppers and potatoes and freeze – then just prepare and add them in when serving.

2 tbsp oil
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1tbsp marjoram or oregano
2tbsp paprika – to taste: sweet/hot/smoked
1tsp dried rosemary
1tsp dried thyme
1tsp dried sage
1tsp curry powder
1tsp chili powder
1 tsp piri piri spice mix
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground nutmeg
100g tomato paste
2tbs vegetable bouillon powder or 1 vegetable stock cube
1 x 500ml carton tomato passata
200g red lentils
Salt and pepper to taste

2tbs oil
2 fresh red peppers
4 cooked potatoes, cut into wedges

Tabasco, sriracha, sweet chili sauce, gochujang, to taste.

  • Peel and chop the onion and garlic, then puree in a food processor/spice grinder/liquidiser with a little water.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan (or pan that has a lid) and add the onion mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes until the water has evaporated and the onion is starting to brown.
  • Add in the herbs and spices and cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add in the tomato paste and stir well. Allow the paste to caramelise a little – it will turn a brick red/orange (2-3 minutes).
  • Add the bouillon, passata and lentils.
  • Fill the passata carton with water and swirl it about, then pour into the pan (or just add 500ml water).
  • Stir all together well, then cover with a lid and turn the heat to low (I used 2 on my induction hob).
  • Simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the lentil texture is to your liking. If your lentils are particularly thirsty, you might want to add a little more water.
  • After about 30 minutes, cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Slice into 2cm strips, then cut into 2cm squares.
  • Heat the oil in a pan on low heat and add the squares of pepper.
  • Fry gently for 30 minutes or so, turning occasionally, until cooked but still with a little bite.
  • When the lentils are cooked, add in the red peppers and sliced potatoes and heat through before serving.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • If the spiciness needs a little oomph, stir through any/all of the suggested sauces.