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Madras Lentils

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5 from 9 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Yield 5 cups (4 servings)
Category Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine Indian
Author Lauren


Slightly smoky and spicy, this vegetarian lentil dish is hearty and bold. Serve with warm naan bread or over rice for a delicious and quick weeknight meal. 


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala optional
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dry black beluga lentils
  • 1 (14-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Cilantro, canned coconut milk, naan bread and/or rice for serving


  • Melt butter in a large pot or Dutch oven or medium-high heat. Add onion, pepper, ginger and garlic; cook until vegetables are softened, 4–6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    bell pepper and onion cooking in a Dutch oven
  • Stir in tomato paste, chili powder, garam masala, cumin, salt, paprika, and red pepper flakes; cook 1 minute.
  • Stir in broth and lentils, increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes.
    broth being poured into a dutch oven
  • Stir in beans, vinegar, and honey; season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Serve lentils over rice or with naan bread, top with cilantro and a drizzle of coconut milk or half-and-half, if using.
  • Store lentils in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 



Make it more traditional: You can use black glam/whole urad in place of the black beluga lentils, just be sure to soak the dry lentils 8 hours before using. Drain and rinse, and use as directed in the recipe. You can also leave out the red bell pepper and add a minced jalapeño or serrano. 
Lentil options: If you can't find black beluga lentils, you can also use green or brown lentils. Decrease the cook time by 5 or 10 minutes and check it frequently towards the end of cooking. 
Make it vegan: use olive oil instead of butter and use sugar or maple syrup instead of honey. 


Serving: 1¼ cupsCalories: 214kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 9gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 951mgFiber: 9gSugar: 10g
Keywords Dal Maharani, Dal Makhani, Madras Lentils
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