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South Indian Spicy Lentil Stew

South Indian Spicy Lentil Stew

South Indian Spicy Lentil Stew


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup masur dahl (red lentils) or mung dahl (yellow lentils)
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 5-6 large okra, halved lengthways
  • 2 carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 2 potatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tablespoon tumeric
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro seeds, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 6-8 dried curry leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sambhar masala


In a large saucepan bring the water to a boil. Add the dahl, tomatoes, okra, carrots, potatoes, tumeric, salt and tamarind paste or lemon juice. Stir and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and cook until the dahl is tender–approximately 30 minutes; add more water if necessary.

Meanwhile, in a heavy skillet, heat the oil and lightly fry the ground cilantro and cumin over a medium heat. Add the mustard seeds, chile and curry leaves and fry for 2 minutes, covering the skillet as the seeds pop. Add the fried spices to the cooked dahl and vegetables. Add the sambhar masala and mix well.

The stew can be prepared up to 2 hours in advance.

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