coconut lentils

4 01 2011

“consider the nutritional power of the LENTIL: high in fiber, low in fat, a good source of B vitamins, folate, magnesium, potassium. They’re easy to digest meaning that they don’t produce as much gassy by-product as other legumes. And of course, there’s the protein. Of all the edible plants, only soybeans contain more.”
-Alton Brown, Good Eats (season 10 episode 13 “Pantry Raid VI: Lentils”)

For lunch today (and probably dinner and possibly tomorrow’s breakfest – yes, it’s that good): coconut lentils with beef tenderloin on rice.

coconut lentils on rice

I first tried making this dish in June when one of my best friends came to visit. No pictures at the time, but I loved the recipe and tucked it away for making again in cooler weather. Coconut is great for summer but the thick soupiness of the dish is a star on my Winter Soups radar.

It’s so good, with a light mixture of spices and a good balance between sweet & savory. When my mother tried a spoonful today, she immediately declared it, “Yummm Comfort Food,” and ate a bowlful – this from a woman who has avoided all coconut-flavored dishes for more decades than I’ve been alive.

The base recipe is applicable for vegetarian & gluten-free diets, I just added beef tenderloin because we had leftovers that needed to be finished off. Originally I used red lentils, which are obviously not what’s in the picture above – really any kind of dried lentil is fine: green, red, or yellow.

Red Lentils & Coconut Milk
*adapted from a recipe in The Quick Recipe (The Best Recipe Series) by the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
2-4 garlic cloves, minced (to taste)
1 Tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp garam masala (or 1/4 tsp each: cinnamon, ground cloves, ground cardamom, cumin, curry powder)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1.25 C split red lentils, sorted & rinsed
1.5 C unsweetened coconut milk (NOT coconut cream)
1/2 C whole milk or heavy whipping cream
2 C water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In a medium-sized pot or saucepan, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until clear, then add garlic and stir for 1-2 minutes.

Add sugar, spices and lentils, mix well. Then slowly stir in the liquids: first the coconut milk, then the whipping cream, and finally the water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook 20-30 minutes (45 minutes if making a larger batch), stirring occasionally and you may adjust flavor with a bit more milk, salt or brown sugar, according to taste. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes before serving. Lentils will break down a bit as they cook, resulting in a thick porridge-like consistency.

Can be served on plates over white rice or in small bowls with thick slices of bread. Both are nice.

If adding some kind of meat, cook the meat first in a seperate pan, and add it to the pot after the garlic.

You can also make this a day in advance and simply reheat it. The coconut flavor will become more noticeable over time.




2 responses

4 01 2011


5 01 2011

Oh how I adore the lentil!
Unfortunately my kids are such bland eaters that I only really cook them a few ways but that looks delish. I can almost smell it.

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