Tomato and Lentil Curry

Indian-spiced tomato and lentil stew

Do you ever feel like you need to do nothing for a while before you can muster up the strength to do anything? Sometimes I need to take relaxing to a whole new level—let the dishes pile up in the kitchen, forget about that recipe concept, and just laze around on my bed with the windows open. A pile of books on one side and Cookie on the other.

That’s what I did this weekend; I chose to stay in rather than go out and read cookbooks instead of cook. My only notable accomplishments included ruffling through all 600 beautiful pages of Nigel Slater’s Tender (Nigel, dear fellow, why so much cream?!), getting my money’s worth out of my Netflix account and baking up some of my famous dark chocolate-dipped macaroons to ship to a friend. It was just what I needed.

black lentils and kashmiri curry powder

On Sunday, I was busy doing a whole lot of nothing and feeling totally unmotivated to cook this week’s Food Matters Project recipe. I blame the title: curried tomato soup with hard boiled eggs. I find hard-boiled eggs to be truly noxious and I wasn’t feeling soup. After reading through Mark Bittman’s write-up and recipe list, I wondered why he called it soup when it sounded more like a stew. Intrigued, I googled “makhani,” the Indian dish it’s based upon, and recognized it as one of the many vegetarian options I’ve enjoyed at Indian buffets (I generally despise buffets but Indian buffets are a major exception).

Through my research, I learned that makhani is often served with black lentils (dal makhani), so I decided to add lentils for substance and give the recipe name a makeover: Tomato and Lentil Curry. While it’s certainly an improvement, I’m not sure any name could represent this bold and spicy, hearty dish in its full glory. Please give this dish a try and get back to me with your naming suggestions.

lentil vegan curry

Other than adding black lentils (also called urad dal or beluga lentils) and some extra coconut milk, I stuck to the recipe, which you can find in full at Eats Well With Others. I just added one cup of rinsed black lentils to the pot once the liquids came to a boil, and extra coconut milk at the end. I served the curry over a bed of brown jasmine rice with a big slice of lime to squeeze on top. It’s definitely my most successful attempt at Indian cooking so far and I dare say it’s almost as good as the authentic dal makhani served at my beloved Indian buffets.

Indian-spiced tomato and lentil stew

Ingredients of note include an amazing kashmiri curry blend provided by Native Roots Market. Locals, if you haven’t, you really must check out their spice bar! They have custom spice blends for sale and will hand mix any blend your heart desires.

I also used Pomi brand tomatoes because Pomi is the only brand I’ve found that uses BPA-free packaging.

black and white mutt sleeping

All in all, this dish is yet another FMP success, and I’m so glad I made it! I’m looking forward to eating leftovers all week long. Find Mark Bittman’s recipe at Eats Well With Others!


  1. says

    Lentils are a great addition. My husband and I are eating leftover with pasta and rice already. He loved this challenge. Strike! :-)

  2. says

    Oooooh that is a pot of goodness. Love steamy curries and stews in early spring when the nights are still cold. Also, I get you on the whole needing lazy days to get back into productivity mode. I think any successful busy body requires them here and there :)

  3. says

    Agreed about Indian buffets…they are the only ones I will even consider and by consider, I mean stuffing my face. :) This looks beyond delicious.

  4. says

    Ooh, that looks incredible! We too are in the “need to figure out how to cook everything we love at the Indian buffet” boat, and dals are at the top of the list. Time to experiment! :)

  5. says

    Love what you did here! I need to adventure myself into the world of Indian cooking. Or Indian eating, for that matter! I’m kind of a virgin.

    • says

      Sarah, I don’t usually recommend dining at buffets, but get yourself to a good Indian buffet ASAP! You can sample everything that way. I’m pretty sure you’ll love all of it!

    • says

      Have you tried black lentils before? I love them because they retain their shape rather than turning into mush, and they’re so easy to cook!

  6. says

    Kate, if you like Indian food you must must must get your hands on the two cookbooks from Vij’s restaurant in Vancouver. Although nothing can quite rival the dining experience there, the cookbooks are exceptional and the recipes turn out so well they could easily rival any Indian restaurant experience.

  7. says

    I agree, the title threw me off also until I actually sat down and read the recipe. We were thinking alike… I did just about the exact same google research that you did before I decided on my take :)

  8. says

    I really wouldn’t call this a soup so much as a striaght-up curry either! I’m so glad you found an adaptation that worked for you…the finished product looks so delicious! I’m definitely going to add lentils in lieu of eggs next time!

  9. says

    This is perfect cause I love lentils – and this way I probably wouldn’t need to serve it over rice. Also re: the canned tomatos thing, we’ve recently been just peeling and chopping our own and I can hardly notice the difference in cooking! Cans kinda freak me out..

  10. says

    Yep, I totally relate. Sometimes I feel like I’m on strikes over chores. But like everytime, chores and life won so I get back on track pretty quick. But at least, it feels great to refuse to obey once in a while ;)

  11. says

    Your weekend sounds a lot like my weekend. I’ve had a few really stressful, tiring weeks, and the rainy weekend forecast was the perfect excuse to just stay home, thumb through some books and magazines, watch movies (and the Mad Men premier!) and cook without feeling overwhelmed by it. Sometimes I need to step back and remind myself that cooking is FUN, and taking pictures of food is fun, too. Those weekends that aren’t jam-packed with activities, are definitely good reminders of what really matters. I’m all about a good curry, especially when tomatoes are involved.

  12. says

    Kate, this looks incredible! I am obsessed with Indian food (seriously, my birthday “party” of choice in second grade was dinner at my favorite Indian restaurant..) but I don’t cook it nearly enough myself. This looks totally do-able and so delicious!

  13. Bonita says

    Kate I made a batch like yours last week and froze half. The first serving was with spinach salad and brown rice – delish! Second batch last night with parathas and a huge garden salad sprinkled with toasted cumin seeds. Oh my all the changes you made on the recipe resulted in the best lentil curry EVER. Rich, velvety and substantial. A winner in our house again! Thank you <3

  14. Ashley says

    Mmmmm, looks delicious! I was planning on making this over the next few days, as several of your recipes have become family favorites. Unfortunately I can’t find the recipe, just the introduction and some tempting photos. Please get the recipe back up so we can try this out. Thanks!

  15. Rebecca says

    Yum! Last nights dinner and I could not wait to have leftovers for lunch. I added a dab of plain yogurt for a little more creaminess. It was perfect without the addition. I look forward to trying more of your recipes. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Angie says

    Oh. My. Goodness. I called my sister and told her she had to come for dinner because I cared so much about her taste buds they should get to enjoy this meal. Super delicious!

  17. Kathy says

    Made this last night and it was delicious and easy! Served it with coconut basmati rice. Thanks for another great recipe!

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