For thousands of years, lentils have been not only part of a healing diet, but a religious staple among Arab, Asian, and Latin American cultures. Lentils are a common dish in weekly meals in Colombia. These are a very cheap, tasty, and all in all, pretty easy to make. As a child I ate them weekly, they never got old. Sometimes we added boiled egg, or pieces of beef. In India lentils are a very important dish, their population consumes a quarter of the lentil production worldwide. Providing a great source of protein, versatility to make stock and thicken recipes, lentils are a valuable dietary source since 31%* of the Indian population is vegetarian. Some of us have experienced how this legume is present in popular dishes like dhal or lentil curry.
Lentils are an edible pulse, which is the seed of legumes. These are plants grown agriculturally. They are found in the tropical rainforests and dry forests of the Americas and Africa. For more information about the different type of lentils and other legumes in Indian cuisine here is a great article. In essence, pulses like lentils are used to make flours, pastes, and of course the main lentil dish. This special grain is a great popular dish as it is loaded with protein, fiber, and iron among many more nutrients.
Sprouting grains is important as it is the practice of germinating seeds. This process makes them easier to digest, allowing the body to access their full nutritional profile. Another ingredient that will help digestion of pulses as well as avoiding gases is the use of azafoetida. This is a gum from a variety of giant fennel, which despite its terrible smell, it is considered the most blessed of flavorings amongst Jain and Brahmin Indians, as they don’t eat neither garlic nor onions, but the addition of this miraculous powder adds a very similar savoriness.
Following my native Colombian roots and my passion and studies for the Indian culture, I have made this lentil recipe as a fusion dish between both countries, taking some ingredients from my hometown, gently blending them with the spices from Asia. This meal is nurturing, filling, and very nutritious. Great for kids! Lentils are usually eaten in our house on Sundays, and we usually have left overs, which are used to make Lentil Tacos or Nachos. If I have vegetables that I need to use before the week ends, I add them to the lentils. I usually steamed them and then add on the last step so that they do not overcook. In the photo you can see pieces of zucchini. I do this to avoid wasting food.
PREP: 20 MINS – COOK: 40 MINS – YIELD: 6 SERVINGS
- 1 cup sprouted green lentils
- 2.5 cups water
- 1 cup diced potatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped white onions
- 1/3 cup grated carrots
- 1/3 cup chopped coriander
- 1 Tbsp grated ginger
- 2 tsps turmeric
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp azafoetida
- Soak the lentils 24 hours ahead in order to sprout them. For this process, first rinse the lentils, then place them in a glass bowl with 4 cups of water. Put the bowl near the window so as to get much light. Once the lentils have sprouted they are ready to be cook.
- Boil water in a small pot and cook the potatoes until soft, about 10-12 minutes. Strain from water and keep on the side with the rest of the ingredients, to add later to the lentils.
- Place the ghee in a large-size pan on a high heat. Add the seeds and let them absorb the ghee for about two minutes, you will start hearing the mustard seeds pop. Next add the onions, tomatoes and stir until the colors come together to form an orange-like stew, then add the lentils and stir for a couple of minutes.
- In one cup of water add the turmeric and azafoetida, stir to dissolve well and add to the lentils. Then continue to stir the lentils, and add the rest of the water.
- Bring to a boil and then simmer. Add the carrots, coriander, potatoes and ginger. Stir well to mix additional ingredients. Cook for about 30 minutes until lentils are soft (but not too soft). Add salt to taste, and pepper. I usually leave the pepper out because of the kids.
- Garnish each bowl with a table spoon of fresh yoghurt and fresh leaves of coriander. Feta cheese also goes great with this dish!
- Protects the Heart: with their soluble fiber, they help reduce cholesterol levels
- Improve Digestion: The high level of insoluble fiber found in lentils absorbs water in the digestive tract, swelling up and carrying waste out of the digestive tract (Dr. Axe)
- Balance PH level: They are one of the most alkaline protein sources
- High source of plant-based proteins: They contain essential minerals typically found in meat, like iron and B vitamins.
- Improve immunity: Since they are a very good digestive support, it is a win-win.
Modifications for toddlers and kids: Sometimes the coriander seeds could be “noticeable” for kids. Gaia has learned to go with it. However, to avoid this, you can replace these seeds for coriander seed powder. The mustard seeds will not be visible in this case. If you use brown mustard seeds, the flavor will be a bit more bitter, so I avoid these ones. You can also put in the food processor and make baby food.
For more information on the amazing benefits of lentils, this is a great source. Enjoy!
*2006 Hindu-CNN-IBN State of the Nation Survey