Full of deep and complex flavors, this set it and forget it dish is both surprisingly healthy and incredibly versatile.
I am so excited about these Indian Spiced Crockpot Lentils. Personally, I love Indian food, but it can be intimidating to try at home. While we do have a good Indian grocer here, it can also be expensive to invest in the many different spices that form the base of most Indian dishes. That’s why when I saw that Rebel Kitchen Knoxville was doing a cooking demo at Williams Sonoma on Sous Vide and Indian spices I had to go. His black dal, pictured below, was delicious.
What I appreciated most from the demo was his assertion that you don’t have to be 100% married to a recipe or cuisine style. You can shake up traditional dishes by using nontraditional ingredients. This is something I do frequently. Am I out of fresh jalapenos? I’ll try that poblano I was saving instead. No Thai basil in the house? Well, how about some regular basil and lemongrass instead?
A lot of tweaking comes from this, I think, and honestly, this is the way our great grandmothers cooked. By look, taste, feel, and whatever they could get their hands on. And dal, in particular, is a dish that goes by many names. It can be called dal makhani or urad dal, and is one of several different kinds of dal popular in Indian cuisine.
Indian Spiced Crockpot Lentils or Black Dal?
I obviously don’t have a sous vide machine at home, because EXPENSIVE! I do, however, have a crockpot and a creative streak! Which is where these Indian Spiced Crockpot Lentils came from. I played around with the recipe, and you can and should too. As my grandmother once told me, if it tastes good, it’s probably going to taste good in it.
Dal is one of those dishes that is actually quite healthy, but doesn’t taste like it. I love dal on a winter evening, or a rainy summer Sunday. This version is a far from classic recipe, which is why I’ve titled it Indian Spiced Lentils, instead of Black Dal or Dal Makhani. But I think it’s a good jumping off point if you want to try Indian cuisine without investing a log of spices or other ingredients.
One thing I would suggest, though, is serving it with a crusty bread, or hopefully even homemade naan!
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Indian Spiced Crockpot Lentils
- 2 Cups Black Lentils
- 1 Large or 2 Small Onion
- 2 Medium Carrots, Diced
- 32 ounces Vegetable or Chicken Broth
- 1 Piece Ginger, minced Approximately 1-2 inches
- 1 Piece Fresh Turmeric, minced Approximately 1-2 inches - may substitute 1-2 teaspoons dried/powedered turmeric if fresh cannot be found
- 6 Cloves Garlic, minced May use more or less to taste
- 1 Large Can Tomatoes (approximately 28 ounces) May use fresh when tomatoes are in season
- 2 Teaspoon Cumin
- 2 Tablespoons Garam Masala This in Indian Spice blend that can now be found in most grocery stores. You may use more or less of this to taste. Using more will make the dish spicier, so if you don't like a lot of heat, cut back on this.
- 1 Teaspoon Coriander
- 1/2 to 1 Teaspoon Red Pepper May use more or less to taste.
- 1 Teaspoon Bourbon Smoked Paprika This is optional, but I feel like it really gives depth to the dish.
- 1 Teaspoon Soy Sauce
- 1 Teaspooon Kosher Salt May use more or less to taste
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- a handful Cilantro For garnish
- 1/4 Cup Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream If the dish gets too spicy, stir a bit of this in at the finish!
- 1 Small Lime Squeeze a little fresh lime juice on top just before serving.
- Assemble all ingredients.
- Dice your onion and carrots, and mince garlic, ginger, and turmeric.
- Combine all ingredients except for butter, yogurt or sour cream, lime, and cilantro in large crockpot, and set on highest setting for 2 hours.
- Turn heat to low, and simmer lentils for an additional two hours. Adjust ingredients and spice level to taste.
- Approximately 30 minutes before serving, add in butter, allow to melt, and stir through.
- Serve hot, and top with a spoonful of Greek yogurt or sour cream, cilantro leaves, and a splash of lime juice.
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Hi Jeni! This looks easy enough for me to make, and I am also obsessed with crock pot meals. Question: would it be so terrible if I left out both the coriander and the Garam Masala? If I could do that, I could make this tonight without going to the grocery store!! 🙂
Personally I wouldn’t leave out the Garam Masala – that’s kind of the key ingredient. But you could still make a spicy pot of lentils by using chili powder. You basically then have lentil chili 🙂