Indian Red Lentil Stew

A girl’s gotta treat herself every once in awhile. Whether it’s a weekend retreat, getting a pedicure, or an elaborate haircut, doing something kind to ourselves makes us feel good, relaxed and special. It doesn’t have to be huge. Heck, I consider taking myself out to tea and reading for a couple of hours in a comfy coffee shop a way to treat myself. That’s like, a $3 activity, tops.

My activity of choice yesterday wasn’t $3 but it was essential. My skin has been begging for some special treatment since we arrived in Montreal. I’ve been get crazy breakouts for no reason, dry patches, oily patches… it’s a war zone. So I booked myself in for a facial at the spa down the street from my yoga studio. They use Image Organic Skincare Products; a line one of my girlfriends swears by. The spa is also running a discount on facials this month, so I figured yesterday was a good a day as any to book myself in and get my face glowing again.

I’ll let you know what I think of the product in a couple of weeks!

Okay, on to food.

Last time I used these little red lentils, I threw them in a batch of granola. Gosh, that stuff was good. Red lentils are the bomb!

Out of all of the two week cleanse recipes we’ve enjoyed so far, this is my favorite. It’s crazy good and really, really good for you. Each serving has 18 grams of fiber. 18! That’s insanity!

Ah yes, and it comes with it’s very own homemade masala.

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4.6 from 7 reviews
Indian Red Lentil Stew
Recipe type: Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Sugar-free, Yeast-free, Corn-free, Grain-free, Nut-free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
A thick and hearty lentil stew that's low in fat and high in fiber, protein and iron. Made spicy with homemade masala and ready in under 30 minutes.
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • Two 2" segments of cinnamon bark
  • 3-5 whole dried chilies
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • Pinch saffron
  • 3 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice from ½ lime
  1. Begin by sauteing oil, red onion, celery, garlic and ginger root in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat for 6 minutes, until soft.
  2. Meanwhile, break apart cinnamon bark and chili's with your fingers and place in a cast iron pan with cumin seeds. Heat on medium heat for 5 minutes, rotating often until toasted.
  3. Add toasted ingredients to the bowl of your coffee grinder. Add turmeric and saffron. Grind until smooth and set aside.
  4. Once onion mixture is complete, add remaining stew ingredients, including homemade masala. Cover, increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, until lentils are softened.
  6. Stir in fresh cilantro and lime juice.
  7. Will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days or freeze in individual containers for quick lunches.

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I bought this cinnamon bark and saffron in India and am savoring every last bit of it before it’s gone. You can buy the bark here, just look for it in the ethnic isle of your grocery store. It’s so much more flavorful that cinnamon sticks, it’ll blow your mind!

If you don’t have a grinder, I’d recommend swapping out the homemade masala with some garam masala instead.

Okay, begin by chopping up your onions and celery. Nice and fine!

Add to a large saucepan and cook with garlic and oil.

Meanwhile, you can get your masala ready. I like using a cast iron pan, but use whatever you have handy. You just want to toast the seeds so that the flavor develops. Toasted cumin seeds are one of my favorite things on this planet.

Once your veggies are soft and your seeds are toasted,

It’s time to add everything to a pot, grind, and get this party started!

Cook until the lentils are softened, but still a tiny bit firm. If you cook it too long it’ll look like a soppy mess.

I topped my bowl with a bit of chopped grape tomatoes to make it look purdy.

What do you like treating yourself with? When’s the last time you did it?

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Comments | Leave Your Comment

  1. Can’t wait to try this.. always on the lookout for new healthy dals. It reminds me of my favourite dal: Nepalese dal bhat, but mine doesn’t have tomatoes or lime.. Lots of savoury spices like cumin, cinnamon and coriander, though. :)

    • Yum, I made a dish similar to Nepalese dal bhat a couple of months ago, it was awesome!

    • That’s so sweet! I used to do that ages ago but got out of practice. What a nice treat :)

  2. Oh my gosh, you have no idea how much I would love to just sit in a coffee shop for the whole day… this week has been completely mad and I don’t think things are going to slow down until Monday! After that though, I am definitely treating myself to something (just haven’t figured out what yet! Right now, a nap would suffice!)
    This stew sounds so delicious and hearty, and I LOOOOVE that you incorporated the cinnamon bark! I still have some of the stash you gave me, and am thinking about finding a super cheap coffee grinder on Kijiji so I can grind it like you have here!

    • Ya, I bet! I hope next, next weekend is more relaxing for you :)

      You can find coffee grinders at Superstore/Loblaws for $10 and they do a pretty decent job!

  3. What do I like treating myself with? Hmm… I don’t really know how I’d answer this. I did *treat* myself to a Creative Writing Boot Camp for six weeks in September-October. And I LOVED it! Easily the best $125 I’ve spent on developing my writing craft.

    I have a quick clarification question – I think I can tell by the pictures, but are the chilis you used for the masala dried? This recipe looks great – I love lentil stew! So warm and comforting as the temperatures start to fall (I say when the forecast for two days from now is low 60’s, haha).

  4. Yum! I have a bag of red lentils in my pantry and I don’t know what I’ve been saving them for. Apparently this!

  5. If I don’t have cinnamon bark can I substitiute cinnomon stick? Also what kind of dried chili did you use?
    Thanks. Recipe looks great and I can’t wait to eat, I mean make it.

    • Now, if only someone else could MAKE it for you… then you could just EAT it up! :)

      A cinnamon stick would work, but wont have as strong as a flavor. You may want to just use one stick so that the dish doesn’t taste too dessert-like.

  6. This looks so yummy! I think it’s essential to make sure you treat yourself every now and then… I mean, I use winter in general as an excuse to treat myself to warm-cozy pampering every day!

  7. About the cleanse: Is it really good to drink that much water + all the water in fruits and veggies per day? Thank you if you have time to answer! :)

    • Hi Minna – I’m participating in hot yoga while doing this cleanse so I find I need the extra water. Otherwise, as long as I’m not drinking it ALL in one sitting, I should be okay. It’s when people drinking a copious amount of water all in one sitting (like liters upon liters of the stuff) that there can be some major issues. Hope that helps!

      • Thanks! 1000ml sounds so much if you have to drink it all in once. I go to ballet class two times a week so I guess I need the water too!

        • I drink the 1000mL over the span of an hour or so, before I have breakfast then again a couple of hours after dinner.

  8. What??? I think you just blew my mind with the lentils in the granola! WHABAM! It has taken me a while to get used to using lentils but they are really easy to make quickly and mostly grown in Canada (love that). You have also reminded me that I need a facial…and maybe a massage….

    • WHABAM <— love it! Heh, I had a massage last night! It was radical :)

  9. I just made this with cinnamon sticks, no saffron or turmeric, three chipotles en adobo pureed and 2 cups of water. It was great! I’m eating right now. I’m going to make it more true to the recipe next time after I pick up a few ingredients.

    • Awesome, thanks for sharing the adjustments that you made to the recipe, Jessica. I’m sure that’ll help a bunch of people in our community!

  10. This recipe is absolutely amazing and delicious. I’ve also found a great substitute if you are in a time crunch. It’s a product called India Base. All of the prep work is done for you and all you have to do is add your additional ingredients to make your dish. I found it at a local farmers market in Vancouver. But this is a fab recipe and very close to an authentic masoor moong daal.

    • I saw on Facebook that you enjoyed it, hurrah! Hope you’re having a fabulous weekend, Jessica :)

  11. As soon as I saw this recipe I knew I needed to eat it this week. I went to the store two times and each time forgot the dried chilies. I ended up just using a little under a tablespoon of chili powder and accidentally put all the spices (minus the saffron) in the skillet. I also only used about half a stick of cinnamon and about a 1/4 of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, toasted in the pan as well. I was skeptical that I would need so much of the spice powder once ground but I thought, “eh! What the heck! I love all these spices!” so I did and I’m so glad!
    I also only had one can of tomatoes but was just finishing a huge load of bake pumpkin goods and threw about 9 oz of pumpkin and half a chopped tomato in and it was PHENOMENAL!! So delicious! Thanks for the recipe, I’ll be making this many times over.

    • Wow, love the changes and substitutions you made to the recipe. Very awesome. I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Emily :)

  12. done. done. annnnd……done! Ate it all up last night! You haven’t steered me wrong yet Leanne. My whole familia inhaled it last night. It was so much fun gathering up all these new spices I’ve never cooked with. Your recipes are like my new hobby….HAHAHA….like I don’t have enough hobbies on my plate, ahh!

    • That’s so great, Crystal. It’s awesome to hear that you weren’t afraid to try out new spices and experiment. Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  13. I have been following your blog for a little while, just made this stew for lunch today. So good!!!! I added a little bit of cayenne to give it some heat and it was great look forward to eating this for the next few days. I love reading and making your recipes.

    • Hi Kelly – glad you enjoyed the stew! We had a version of it for lunch today, too. Can’t seem to get enough of the Indian flavors lately. Enjoy your evening :)

  14. Leanne, I made this tonight, albeit with garam masala as I could not find cinnamon bark, and it was soooo good!! and easy to make, to boot. Your recipes are always such a reliable resource for me, thank you!

  15. Is there any way to make this recipe without tomatoes? I’m allergic, but this looks SO amazing that I am desperate for a substitute.

    • Hi Vanessa – sure thing. I’m sure you could just use extra vegetable broth. Hope that helps!

  16. Delicious! I prepared the stew tonight and although I ran into some trouble as I had no grinder, I managed to break up the spices with pestle and mortar. Very tasty dish! Love the freshness added by the lime juice and coriander.

  17. hey Leanne Vogel, I am thinking of making this recipe tomorrow for lunch. I’ve got saffron and I want to take the best out of it. But I don’t have the coconut oil. Is it better to substitute it with sunflower oil or with olive oil.
    Thanks once again.

  18. Hey funny, just made same recipe in my head except I added 2 cups cooked brown rice withjuice of whole lemon & sliced rind really thin, & added to rice when cooking rice. Planned on adding 28 oz. tin of chopped tomatoes at end. After stumbling across your recipe decided to try browning cinnamon bark & cumin seed. Surprized by aroma. Thanks for the ideas. Always like learning new little twists with cooking. Don’t have saffron though. Heard from other people awesome stuff if you can find. Very expensive. Wondering about Granola though. I’ll check into it when I have a little time. Next experimental day. Bye for now & I will enjoy meal tonight. :-)

  19. It looks amazing and perfect for the fall weather coming up!! I love warm hearty soups in the cold weather!
    How much would one serving be? About one cup?

    • I believe 1 serving was about 1 cup, yessery! There are more details on the recipe page for this recipe. Just click the “To print, email or text this recipe, click here” link and it will tell you more about serving sizes, etc. Enjoy!

  20. I only have Indian Masala powder, could I use that instead of the homemade masala? and how much would I use?

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