Savory Spiced Tamarind Lentils

Savory spiced tamarind lentils | The Full Helping

A few weeks ago, I blogged about my first official experiment with tamarind paste. In that post, I asked for some suggestions on how to enjoy its sweet-tart, vibrant flavor. I got lots of great feedback: some of you mentioned stir fries, others curry dishes. One of you even mentioned adding tamarind to banana soft serve!

In the end, the recipe that immediate caught my eye was Janet’s tamarind lentils, which are inspired by Isa’s tamarind lentils in Veganomicon. I love savory legume dishes, and the addition of something both tart and super savory sounded irresistible.

I’ve adjusted the spices that Janet’s recipe originally called for, since I didn’t have all of the same ones on hand. I also added sun-dried tomatoes and canned tomatoes in place of tomato paste (again, this is just what I had around), though I imagine tomato paste is great in the recipe. In the end, it was a delicious meal that made for flavorful leftovers. As you’ll see in a moment, this is also a relatively easy dish to make, so it’s perfect for dinners in a pinch.

Savory spiced tamarind lentils | The Full Helping

Savory Spiced Tamarind Lentils (Inspired by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and The Taste Space)
Recipe Type: side dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cup dried lentils (I used green, but brown or black is also fine)
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp concentrated tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Heat the oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat. Add the onion. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes, or until it’s soft and clear. Add the garlic and ginger. Sauté for another two minutes, stirring constantly. Add a tablespoon or two to the pot if the onion and garlic begin to stick.
  2. Add the cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, lentils and sun-dried tomatoes to the pot. Mix all ingredients together. Add the broth or water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let the lentils cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
  3. Whisk together the tamarind, maple syrup, tomatoes, and salt. Add them to the lentils and continue heating over gentle heat till everything is fragrant, warm, and well combined. Serve.
Leftover lentils can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 1 month.

Savory spiced tamarind lentils | The Full Helping

In the days after I made this recipe, I discovered that these lentils are particularly good with a big, fresh salad and a nice hunk of avocado. Nutritional yeast also makes a perfect topping (but then, what isn’t better with nutritional yeast?). I can also imagine enjoying these very much with a quinoa pilaf, or stuffed into a whole grain wrap.

I hope you’ll give the lentils a try. I’m sure you’ll find, as I did, that a little fridge time makes them even more flavorful. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!


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Categories: Vegan Basics
Method: Stovetop
Ingredients: Lentils
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan
Recipe Features: Meal Prep

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  1. I loved this dish! I have had a jar of tamarind paste for a very long time and wasn’t sure what to use it in. Thanks!

  2. Do you have any good suggestions for replacing the tomato? I’m on a special hypoallergenic diet due to health problems I’m having and can’t have nightshade vegetables like tomato, pepper, eggplant, or potato. I also can’t have citrus foods. Any ideas of a vegetable that could replace tomato? Life without it is pretty tricky but I’m getting used to it.

    Also, I just tried my first tamarind recipe using a delicious thai sauce recipe from the folks It uses coconut oil, tamarind paste, shallots, maple syrup/agave. Delicious on a bed of quinoa, mung beans, and sauteed vegetables!

  3. This was really tasty! I added some celery and carrot when sautéing the spice mixture, sprinkled some raisins and pistachios on top, and served it with a simple spinach salad. I will definitely be making this on a regular basis!

  4. Mmmm! This sounds super tasty! I’ve just started eating more lentils recently and I sure love them. I have mainly been sprouting them, but their flavor really seems to shine in soups and dishes like this. Looking forward to trying this, thanks so much Gena!

  5. Yum! So happy you loved it as much as us. Thanks for the shout-out AND ways to mix this dish up. I never would have thought to add avocado or nooch. It sounds more like a salad taco like that. 🙂

  6. Yum, I will have to keep my eye out for tamarind! It’s such a unique flavor, it’ll be good to mix things up a bit, plus I love a good lentil dish! Banana soft serve would be amazing too 🙂

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