Indian Red Lentil Stew

Indian food has been, since my Mum introduced me to chicken korma, a favourite cuisine of mine. The smell of Indian curries as they simmer away is always so hearty and overwhelming, it is difficult not to be enticed into eating it. However, Indian food, in particular takeaway, can be rather unhealthy, filled with oils and other unnecessary things. Making Indian food from scratch, as I have come to discover, is not only relatively simple, but very rewarding, especially for the senses. This Indian Red Lentil Stew, from Healthful Pursuit, is no exception. See Leanne's recipe here, plus her other awesome range of clean Indian recipes! It is gluten free, sugar free, dairy free and vegetarian. I have made it twice now, both times with a friend and both times the smell emanating from the stove was incredible. It is quite straightforward, except perhaps the masala which involved some grinding, but otherwise it is just a matter of chopping, sautéing and waiting for it to simmer away. The first time I made it, it was indeed a stew which was thick and wholesome, however the second time I made it, using canned lentils, it ended up more like a soup with lentils in it, which was equally delicious. The second time we also added torn kale, which added a great greens punch along with plenty of fresh coriander.

Lentil 'Soup'
Lentil 'Soup'

Here is my version of Leanne's recipe:

Indian Red Lentil Stew


  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion
  • ¾ cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 4 cups water (perhaps less for stew or more for soup)
  • 28 oz (440g) canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained (dry lentils for stew to soak up liquid)
  • gluten-free, yeast-free vegetable bouillon cubes (for completely vegan or grain-free, omit these and add extra spices and salt to taste)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • Two 2″ segments of cinnamon bark (or cinnamon powder)
  • 3-5 whole dried chilies
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • Pinch saffron (can omit if you cannot locate saffron, it can be quite expensive)
  • Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • Kale, torn (optional)

Method: 1. Begin by sautéing 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 (or add cinnamon) and chillies 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. To make masala, add toasted ingredients to the bowl of your coffee grinder, blender, spice blender or mortal and pestle. 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. Serve in bowls with fresh coriander. Enjoy the hearty goodness!

The finished product - soup version.
The finished product - soup version.

Keep healthy, Erica xx