Tamarind Lentils

I made these lentils for myself one night last week when no one else was going to be home for dinner. I really liked them – a little sweet, a little spicy, and so simple to make.

Tamarind Lentils
Veganomicon, Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

3 tablespoons coconut or peanut oil (I used canola)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 large onion, diced
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
Generous pinch of cayenne
1 cup dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth or water
2 teaspoons concentrated tamarind syrup or paste
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup or agave nectar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a heavy-bottomed medium-sized pot with a lid, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger, and let sizzle for 30 seconds. Add the onion and fry until translucent and soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the garam masala, cumin seeds, and cayenne, and stir for another 30 seconds until the spices smell fragrant. Add the lentils and vegetable 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 to 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.

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 flavorings. Simmer the mixture for another 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust the salt to taste and serve immediately.

4 to 6 servings

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