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Main Dishes

Spiced Red Lentils with Cucumber Yoghurt

This beautiful dish is another recipe I adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty. I love that cookbook and am very excited about getting my hands on Plenty More, the sequel that is coming out in October. I love this dish because it relies on numerous exotic spices to flavour the dish instead of using a lot of salt. Most people in Western (and some Eastern) cultures consume excess salt above the level that is healthy. A high salt diet can not only lead to high blood pressure, but to osteoporosis, obesity, stomach cancer, kidney stones, and stroke. Check out the AWASH (Australia’s Division of World Action on Salt and Health) website here for more information on the health effects of excess salt and tips for reducing your salt intake.

Don’t be afraid to use these spices. They all blend deliciously together, are easy to use and impart a great flavour without overwhelming the dish. Most of the spices can be found in a regular supermarket and the more rare ones can be found in fruit and veg stores or ethnic markets.



Ingredients (serves 2-4)

For the lentils:

  • 200g (about 1 1/4 cups) split red lentils

  • 1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro)

  • 1 small onion peeled and quartered

  • 1 large knob of ginger peeled (about the size of your thumb)

  • 3 large cloves garlic peeled

  • 1/2 long red chilli deseeded

  • 1 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

  • 4 tbsp macadamia nut oil (or canola or sunflower oil)

  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric

  • 1/2 tsp paprika (I used smoked paprika)

  • 10 curry leaves, dried or fresh

  • 400g can (about 1 1/2 cups) chopped tomatoes

  • 2 tsp sugar

  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek (optional)

  • 1 pinch asafoetida (optional)

  • salt (a pinch)

  • 1/2 tbsp lime juice

  • 1 tbsp coconut paste (or coconut oil or butter or omit entirely) I used Loving Earth Organic Whole Ground Coconut Paste


For the yoghurt sauce:

  • 1 cup Greek yoghurt

  • 1/2 cucumber, finely diced

  • olive oil to drizzle

  • salt (a pinch)



For the lentils:

Rinse the lentils then place in a bowl with 350ml (1 1/2 cups) water for 30 minutes. Cut the coriander in half to separate out the leaves from the stalks and roots. Roughly chop the leaves and set aside. Put the stems in the bowl of a food processor along with the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli.



Pulse a few times until ingredients are chopped but not mixed into a paste.

Put the mustard seeds in a heavy-based pot and place over medium heat. When they begin to pop, add the macadamia nut oil and the contents from the food processor. Stir and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.


















Add the spices and curry leaves (except the fenugreek and asafoetida) and continue cooking for 5 minutes longer. Add the lentils and their water, the can of tomatoes with their juice, sugar, fenugreek, asafoetida and a pinch of salt. Stir, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are fully cooked.

When done, remove from heat and stir in the lime juice, coconut paste and chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves.

For the yoghurt sauce:

Pour yoghurt into a bowl, add cucumber, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Stir well.

To serve:

Spoon lentils into bowls and top with a spoonful of yoghurt mixture. Garnish with a few coriander leaves. Enjoy!

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