Turmeric lentils

Food as medicine: turmeric lentils

Turmeric lentils
inspired by Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking
serves 4-6

This recipe is as simple as boiling lentils and adding ghee and spices. If you have a little extra time, you can sauté the onion and tomato, but this isn't necessary for it to be tasty. I've written the instructions to include this step, but you could just pour in the spiced ghee. You'll be pleasantly surprised by how ghee and a few spices make this humble dish totally delicious. 

1.5 cups red lentils
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1.5 tsp sea salt
3 TBS ghee or extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafetida
1-2 dried red chiles (or red chili flakes)
1 small onion, diced (optional)
1 small tomato, diced (optional)

Rinse lentils and bring to a boil in a pot with 5 cups of water. Stir in turmeric. Bring heat to low and partially cover with lid. Let cook for 35 minutes. Stir in salt and taste for seasoning. Leave covered on the burner with the heat turned off. 

In the final five minutes of cooking time, heat a small skillet with ghee over medium-high heat. When hot, add in the asafetida. Let it bubble a moment. Add in cumin seeds. When they pop, add in chilis. When they've turned dark, add in onions. Saute until translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Then, add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until they release their juices and wilt.

Open lid of lentil pot and pour in the onion-tomato-spice mixture. Grab a spoonful of lentils from the pot and transfer to skillet to soak up all the goodness in there. Stir around and pour back into the lentil pot. Bring lentils to a brief boil. Taste for seasoning and turn off heat. Serve with rice.  


  • Add garlic with the onion. Ginger would also be nice. 
  • Wilt in baby spinach or chard to add some greens
  • Serve with avocado
  • Top with chopped cilantro