Indian Spiced Black Lentils

Indian Spiced Black Lentils

Last Updated on June 3, 2023

It’s an Indian inspired dish made with black lentils. While it’s not an Indian dish, it has two of our favorite components—Spices and Black Lentils.

The Lentils

As far as we know, there are a few different types of lentils available. Luckily, the local grocery store we go to has organic black lentils from Farmer Direct in bulk section. It’s pretty, tastes great, and it holds its shape pretty well. It requires no soaking and takes only about 35 minutes to cook (cooking times vary for your desired texture.)  They’re also used as vegan “caviar” as an alternative to traditional caviar.

The Spices

For the spices, we use cumin seeds, cardamom, turmeric, coriander, and garam masala. It’s all our usual pantry essentials. By the way, if you don’t have a variety of spices in your pantry, we urge you to stock up with some! With a well stocked pantry of spices, you can make a variety of dishes using the same ingredients over and over. For the cumin seeds, we toast them to add an extra layer of flavor so we purposely cook long enough in the oil to get that toasty & smoky flavor. Cardamom is an another favorite. It’s very aromatic so a little bit goes a long way.

The Rice

We like to serve this dish with basmati rice, but it’s also great by itself or with good quality toasted bread. If you like more soupy consistency you can add more liquid such as water or vegetable broth (we prefer the rice not getting too soggy from the liquid.)

And, a dish like this, we always make a big batch. Eat half now then save the other half for later (freeze it for a quick meal.)


Print Recipe
5 from 7 votes

Indian Spiced Black Lentils

It's black lentils cooked with Indian inspired spices such as cumin seeds, cardamom, turmeric, coriander and garam masala. It's great being served with basmati rice but also good to eat by itself or with a warm toasted artisan bread.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Entree, Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine: Indian-Inspired, Vegan
Servings: 8 people
Author: Plant-Based Matters


  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2- inch ginger knob minced
  • 1 large yellow onion minced
  • 3 cardamom powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper powder
  • 3 medium size tomatoes finely diced or puréed
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups black lentils
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 tsp sugar (optional)
  • A handful of cilantro (optional)


  • Heat up a large pot on medium high heat. Pour grapeseed oil and add cumin seeds. Cook for 3-4 minutes until they are dark brown. Then add garlic and ginger. Cook for 3-4 minutes until crispy and lightly browned. Add yellow onion and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to medium. Add cardamom powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, garam masala, and cayenne pepper powder. Keep stirring and cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add tomatoes, water, and black lentils. Season with salt and black pepper. Give a quick stir. Turn up the heat and bring it to boil then reduce the heat to medium low. Let it simmer for 35-40 minutes. Add more water if lentils are absorbing too much water.
  • Add coconut milk and sugar (optional.) Stir and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Serve with rice such as basmati rice and chopped cilantro (optional.)
Did you make this recipe?Mention @plantbased_matters or tag #plantbased_matters!

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