Baking & cooking with an enthusiastic amateur

Yogurt-Curried Lentils

Yogurt makes this curry thick and rich!

Last month, I took my partner out to The Helmand restaurant for his birthday. It was my first experience with Afghani food, and out of my usual price range, but it was immensely enjoyable! I got the mourgh challow, delicious chunks of chicken in a savory, thick curry sauce with yellow split peas. The rice it came with was really tasty too, studded with cumin seeds.

As is often the case after being exposed to a new food, I started to crave a repeat of my experience. I knew I couldn’t afford to go back there any time soon, and at this point, I probably shouldn’t even be buying a bunch of new ingredients. But I just had to try to recreate those flavors! And I did have lentils…

The curry can be served side-by-side with the rice instead of on top of it, for an alternative presentation.

Well, yellow split peas are a legume, and lentils are a legume, and furthermore, I know lentils can serve well as a main ingredient for a dish. I had plain greek yogurt in my fridge (which is quickly becoming a staple), so all I needed to get was cilantro, which I found for $1 at Haymarket.

This has been written after my second making of this recipe (both times within three days – what can I say, it was tasty!). The first batch turned out very well, but I was able to tweak a couple of things slightly and ensure my measurements and steps were accurate.

I love the extra bit of color and texture contrast that the cilantro and almond garnishes provide.

Yogurt-Curried Lentils
1/2 medium sweet onion
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cloves garlic
3/4 cup lentils, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional)
3/4 cup (6 oz) plain, nonfat greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
4 tsp toasted, sliced, unsalted almonds (optional)
Extra fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
Pallow Rice
3/4 cup brown jasmine rice, rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/16 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon canola oil

Bring rice and water to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, pepper, and nutmeg; reduce heat and cover, simmering, for 35-40 minutes, or cooking time indicated on the package.

Meanwhile, heat the 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 10-12 minutes, until the onion is softened. Reduce the heat slightly. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, just until it starts to turn brown. Add the lentils, water, curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender and have absorbed all the water.

When the rice is done, stir in the canola oil. Transfer rice to a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for at least 10 minutes or until the lentils are ready.

Remove the lentils from the heat and remove the lid. Let them sit for a minute, then stir in the yogurt, cilantro, and salt.

Serve yogurt-curried lentils over the rice, garnished with extra cilantro and almonds.

Makes four servings of lentils and rice.
Cost per serving: $0.90
Nutrition per serving: 274 calories, 7g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 48g carb, 9g fiber, 13g protein

On Tweaking:

  • This curry has lots of sauce. If you’d like less, reduce the yogurt by up to half.
  • Plain rice or a rice pilaf would be a fine alternative to pallow rice.
  • You can skip the canola oil and baking step for the rice if you prefer.

Quite a bit of food for under 300 calories. When I’m working to be particularly mindful of what I eat, a homemade dish like this that’s fairly healthy is great.

3 comments on “Yogurt-Curried Lentils

  1. Susan
    July 1, 2012

    Yum! I’m definitely bookmarking this to try!

    • Ovensports
      July 1, 2012

      Awesome! Let me know how it works out for you! 🙂

      • Susan
        August 8, 2012

        So I tried it last night… and it was awesome!!!

        I did a few modifications. I had yellow split peas on hand, so I used those instead which I guess is in the spirit of your original inspiration! I also wanted some green matter in my meal, so I sauteed a cup of frozen okra with canola oil and garam masala. The rice I made in a rice cooker with the spices pre-mixed and because that’s a little faster I waited until the lentils were half done before putting it on.. and thus saw the part about baking too late, and was too hungry and ate it 🙂

        I’m not sure if the yellow split peas vs. lentils contributed to this, but I did want more of a punch out of it. I ended up stirring in an additional 1-2 tsps of curry powder and 1-2 tsps of garam masala into the curry. I think if I were to do it again I’d also halve the yogurt which might not dilute the flavor as much.

        Overall, very excellent!!

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This entry was posted on June 22, 2012 by in Dinners, Everything Vegetarian, Meat-Free, Vegetarian Main Courses and tagged , , .
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