Slow Cooker Masala Lentils + Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker Giveaway!
October 29, 2015

Slow Cooker Masala Lentils | An Easy, Flavorful Vegan Dinner | The Full Helping

Living in a small New York City apartment means exercising extreme discernment when it comes to the addition of a new kitchen appliance. There simply isn’t a lot of space to go around, and most appliances are pretty cumbersome. Plus, there’s the issue of buyer’s remorse, or outgrowing an appliance once you’ve invested in it. I use nearly all of my appliances on a regular basis, but I can’t name the last time I used my juicer.

For all of these reasons, I’ve been hesitant to add a slow cooker to my appliance collection, even though I’ve been curious about one for a long time. I started reconsidering it this fall, when I started up grad school again; I knew that being able to throw dinner ingredients together and allow an appliance to do the work would be a huge time-saver as I juggle clients and classes.

So, when the folks at Hamilton Beach reached out to me about reviewing their new Programmable Stay or Go 6 Quart Slow Cooker, I was thrilled, and very interested indeed.

Slow-cooker-masala-lentils1

The main purpose of this appliance is to make life just a little easier. You can program the slow cooker on either a low or a high setting for 2, 4, 6, 8 or 10 hours, then forget about it. The slow cooker will switch to a “warm” setting automatically as soon as cooking is done, so there’s no need for babysitting. It’s as simple as getting a recipe set up, then letting the slow cooker do it’s magic!

Other features of the Stay or Go Slow Cooker include:

-A single clip quickly seals lid onto base to reduce messy spills
-A hinged lid that stays up then easily detaches for dishwasher cleanup
-Dishwasher safe lid & stoneware

Having this slow cooker is opening up a world of new vegan recipes, including some I’ve always wanted to try, such as slow cooker steel cut oats, slow cooker chili, slow cooker Cuban black beans, slow cooker applesauce, and so much more. When I got the slow cooker, I decided to order a copy of Robin Robertson’s Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker, which I’ve heard great things about. It’s a wonderful and accessible book, and I’m excited to explore it. For now, Pinterest and other online recipes are keeping me busy!

I was fairly torn on what to prepare first, but I let my pantry guide me. I had a ton of Spanish pardina lentils at home; they’d been on sale at my local health food store, and I’m a big fan of their texture and size (a little bigger than beluga or Le Puy lentils, but they hold their shape better than regular green or brown lentils). So, that was my recipe base. Because lentils go so nicely with Indian flavors, I decided to do a sweet, savory masala lentil dish: something halfway between soup and stew, a little less spicy than a curry but still very flavorful. And this recipe was born.

Slow Cooker Masala Lentils | An Easy, Flavorful Vegan Dinner | The Full Helping

Things I love about this dish: it’s creamy, hearty, and filling, while also being incredibly healthy (rich in minerals, high in protein, full of micronutrients, high in fiber, low in fat…the list goes on). Tomato paste and stewed tomatoes create a rich base–more memorable than using broth or water alone. I love that the dish features garam masala, and with it the characteristically autumnal aromas of cinnamon and cardamom (there’s some ginger in here, too). I love that this could be served on its own, as a stew of sorts, or over rice (which is how I’ve been eating it). And I love that the recipe makes a lot of food; this means that it’s a perfect choice for batch cooking and freezing, which is an essential habit for me these days!

This recipe could easily be modified to include a different blend of spices or even different ingredients; I’m thinking that sweet potato would be a marvelous addition. But it’s great just as it is: an easy, low-stress, protein-rich, iron-rich, and highly nourishing meal.

Slow Cooker Masala Lentils | An Easy, Flavorful Vegan Dinner | The Full Helping

Slow Cooker Masala Lentils (gluten free, soy free)

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
Yields: 6 -8 servings (8-10 cups)

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger powder
  • 2 1/4 cups brown green or pardina lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 15- ounce can diced or stewed tomatoes with their juices
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste optional, adds a hint of tartness
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • A few shakes black pepper
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • For serving: Rice quinoa, or another whole grain | Fresh herbs

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients except for the coconut milk in your slow cooker. Stir. Cook on high heat for 3-4 hours or on low heat for 6 hours. In the last hour or two of cooking, respectively, check to see if the lentils need more liquid, and add extra broth or water. You can adjust this based on how thick you'd like the finished lentils to be, keeping in mind that you'll be adding more liquid in the form of the coconut milk.
  • When the lentils are ready, stir in the coconut milk. Serve over a whole grain, if desired, and fresh herbs for garnish.
  • Stovetop cooking alternative method: Saute the onion in a little grapeseed or coconut oil till clear and tender. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or so. Add the remaining ingredients except for the coconut milk. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer until the lentils are thick and resemble a stew (another 15-20 minutes). Stir in the coconut milk and serve.

Notes

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days, and they can be frozen for up to 6 weeks.

Many slow cooker recipes call for sautéing onion and garlic before adding them (along with everything else) to the slow cooker. I was torn on whether or not that step would be worth it for this recipe. I’m sure that it makes a big difference in other recipes, but for this dish, simply adding all of the ingredients to the slow cooker and walking away was perfectly fine! And the resulting recipe has a lot of deep and rich flavor, so I don’t think it suffers from lack of browning the onions first.

Slow Cooker Masala Lentils | An Easy, Flavorful Vegan Dinner | The Full Helping

As you can see, I’m a little smitten with the slow cooking process, and you can expect to see more slow cooker recipes on my blog and in my Monday menu plans from now on! I’ll do my best to supply a stovetop alternative, though, whenever I possibly can.

In the meantime, I’d love for one lucky reader to join in on the slow cooking fun with me! And fortunately for us, the folks at Hamilton Beach have kindly and generously offered to share a Programmable Stay or Go 6 Quart Slow Cooker with one Full Helping reader. Hooray! Simply follow the prompts below to enter the giveaway. I’ll run it for three weeks. US and Canadian residents only, please.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

OK folks! That’s it for today. I’ll see you very soon for a new edition of weekend reading (is it just me, or did this week fly by? I can’t believe it’s almost the weekend). And until we meet again, I’d love to know what some of your favorite vegan slow cooker recipes are, so feel free to share! I’m on the market for great ideas 🙂

xo

The slow cooker reviewed in this post and the slow cooker being given away were provided to me at no cost by Hamilton Beach. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Slow Cooker Masala Lentils | An Easy, Flavorful Vegan Dinner | The Full Helping

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    194 Comments
  1. OK, so I am an unapologetic omnivore, with 90% of my meals consisting of meat. I made this because my wife has asked for a meatless day, given the circumstances, period. It being Mother’s Day, I figured what better day to make an exception to the norm. Long story short, this was fantastic and I would 100% make it again. Use all of the ingredients suggested. The tamarind makes a difference.

  2. If you aren’t available to add the coconut milk later during the cooking process, could it be added at the beginning instead?

    • I think so! I tend to taste the creaminess more when I finish with the milk or cashew cream, but I’m sure this would work, too 🙂

  3. I think it would be best to precook the onions and garlic, they come out a bit crunchy even after six hours cooking. Otherwise the recipe is really good.

  4. A good base recipe. I would recommend doubling the garam masala, adding cumin, curry powder and chilli powder. This gives it more flavour and kick.

  5. I am sitting enjoying this dish as I post. I froze a good part of it because it yields a lot. It is so delicious and easy. One tweak, I took all of the spices and sautéed them along with cumin seeds in a bit of coconut oil. Once this became fragrant, I popped it all into the slow cooker. The best part of this recipe was, I had everything I needed in the house. Thank you for a wholesome, hearty, easy recipe.

    • Hi Leslie,

      I’m not sure. I think the cooking time would be shorter, as red lentils cook more quickly, but I suspect I’d need to try it for a precise estimate! You could try cooking on high and keeping an eye on it to make sure it’s cooking the way you want it to.

      G

  6. This was amazing, so tasty plus my first successful slow cooker meal to boot (had nearly given up on it!) Delicious, thank you and so easy to make. Thumbs up from my 9 year old son 🙂

  7. On its own, I thought this recipe was pretty bland and it took WAYY longer than expected for the lentils to fully cook in the crock pot unfortunately. (7hrs on high) I ended up making a few adjustments. I doubled the amount of garam masala, and maple syrup. At the end, I added full fat coconut milk instead of low fat and served it all over some brown rice, with a side of achaar to spice things up. With those changes, we enjoyed our meal and had tons of leftovers, so we took your advice and froze some of it in individual portions for lunches.

  8. I enjoyed this recipe mostly because it was very easy to make and I had all the ingredients already in my pantry. In my opinion it had good flavor; however, my husband didn’t like it as much. So very sad! I will have to change it – maybe by adding a few more veggies and changing the spices a little bit (for us it was a bit salty).

    Thank you for the recipe.

  9. I just made this recipe and my house smells amazing!! Looking back I wish I wouldn’t have added additional liquid in the last hour because once the coconut milk was added it became more like a loose stew and I wanted it a bit thicker. You live and you learn. The only modification I’d make in the future would be to add in some chopped up jalapeno. I didn’t have any on hand and instead added a few heavy shakes of cayenne- but that’s for my personal taste. With all that said, this recipe is delicious!

  10. I have so many recipes I would love to try, but maybe first a vegan mac and cheese. Yummy.

  11. I am so curious to see how all these vegan slow cooker recipes turn out. I have not used one since I started my vegan diet back in February 🙂

  12. I haven’t made a lot of slow-cooker recipes… but I’m a college student and we’re coming up on finals crunch time here… anything that could save me time is definitely worth trying! Whipping up a big batch of these masala lentils would last me all week! They look delicious!

  13. I don’t have a slow cooker/crock pot. (Is there truly a difference???) Which feels sort of blasphemous. I’ve been looking into getting one, so this seems very fortuitous. Fingers crossed!

    Also, that looks absolutely delicious. It’s gonna have to be one of the first recipes I try once I actually have a slow cooker.

  14. This is the first recipe I’ve made from this blog, and I am officially obsessed with it as well as slow-cooker recipes in general. I looked at my husband and said, “Seriously, it’s this easy?!” I will definitely be doing this for beans/soups/chilis on a weekly basis, so thank you!

    • Thank you, Brittany! I’m so glad you liked it. I must admit, having a slow cooker has really been an incredible asset in the last two weeks, and I’m quickly falling in love with mine. I’ll be sure to keep sharing my favorite recipes!

  15. Your lentil recipe looks yummy! I’ve never cooked oats in a slow cooker so that would be what I would want to try first. It would be nice to have breakfast ready in the mornings.

  16. The madras lentils sound (and look!) delicious. I don’t have a slow cooker so I’m often having to pass over recipes that call for them. It would be great to remedy that!

  17. Would love a new slow cooker with a timer- that seems like a great feature for beans when I am running late from work!!

  18. Being a college student, space and time are two things I don’t have a lot of. I could whip up some yummy curry dishes with this perfect addition to my quaint (and cramped…) dorm. And my roommate would be happy!

  19. I would love to own a slow cooker so I can have nice warm meals when I get home from work! I love recipes just like this one.

  20. Slow cooker warm porridge on winter mornings sounds just delightful! Thanks for the new recipe.

  21. I loved my slow cooker! It recently decided that it had enough and quit working on me! It stopped turning on and if you were able to get that far it would turn itself off when trying to program it! It’s about 11 years old and well loved!

  22. My husband just told me he wants a slow cooker! Destiny 🙂

    I would make vegan chili!

  23. This dish sounds delicious. I’ve been trying to track down some recipes as I recently won a slow cooker =) I don’t use it very often though, it kind of sits at the back of the cupboard… but I will pull it out to try this =)

  24. I have this in my slow cooker right now! I’m excited to taste the finished product.

    I love my slow cooker and use it often. A Year of Slow Cooking has many recipes that are vegan or can be converted to become vegan. Some favorites are 21 Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry, Bombay Beans and Potatoes and Sweet Potato Chili.

    Thank you for the giveaway!

  25. I have made so many of your delicious recipes and can’t wait to try this one.. Your cookbook is one of my favourites as is your blog

  26. Ooohh I’d love to try this recipe in a slow cooker or perhaps a black bean stew recipe!

  27. I’d love to try a vegan potato soup. I haven’t made it since I started the omni to vegan transition, and it’s the right weather for soup!

  28. Hmm…I’m sure I’d make some kind of stew or chili in my slow cooker. Thanks for the giveaway; I have one that has never worked and I’ve just never replaced it! xoxo

  29. I’m also curious about the slow cooker oatmeal, but I’d definitely be putting this to use for chili!

  30. I’ve been dreaming of making a delicious curried butternut squash soup, it would be a so simple to prepare in the slow cooker too!

  31. Rajma! (Indian red kidney beans) —
    I make it in a small cooker currently, using Anupy Singla’s recipe, but it’s so good it would be great to make a bigger amount at once.

  32. I’ve always wanted to try a slow cooker as well! Imagine coming home after a long day of work to a delicious black bean stew ready to be devoured!

  33. I’d like to find a nice rice breakfast dish. It would be great to wake up to the wonderful scent of breakfast ready for the table.

  34. Ah, I’ve been thinking of getting a slow cooker for a while now, but I wasn’t sure that I would use it enough to justify the purchase. This recipe looks like a great start!

  35. I think I would use the slow cooker to making staples, like bbq sauces, tomato sauces, and beans. I love the idea of being able to set a button and forget about it.

  36. Just looking at pics of this Masala Lentils make me want it NOW!!!! Yumm!~Thanks so much for lovely ideas.

  37. As for what type of recipe I’d like to make – either steel cut oats for an easy nourishing breakfast, or this masala lentils recipe!

  38. I want to try making desserts in a slower cooker! I found a recipe for chocolate peanut butter cake that looks yummy.

  39. Thanks for the giveaway! My first choice of recipe would be a hearty stew (most definitely with sweet potato in it!).

  40. Chili would be wonderful to make now that it’s getting colder outside. I’m a student, so coming home to a warm meal when I get home late at night would be lovely!

  41. We were just talking about slow cooker steel cut oats at our house! I’d love to try making them that way–definitely the first thing I’d try if I won!

  42. My first recipe would be something that you would never think would work. Considering I’ve made pudla in a slow cooker before the bar is high. Perhaps some Banh Bao?

  43. I have honestly never used a slow cooker before, but I would LOVE to try one out! I feel like it would make my life so much easier. The first thing I would probably try making in it is the vegetable broth that I make from leftover scraps!

  44. I’ve been loving soups and stews lately so I’d probably make something similar to this recipe. Legumes make me so happy!

  45. This recipe sounds/looks amazing! And that slow cooker is impressive. I’d love to have it on my counter to come home to during the coming NYC winter. Thanks for sharing!

  46. I always make soups, stews and chili on the stove but a slow cooker would work too and I’d love to try it!

  47. I’d love to make any vegan slow cooker recipe! I would have to search Pinterest for some ideas but this lentil dish looks great!

  48. Chilis, soups, and stews for a tasty meal that makes the house smell great!
    But also desserts – slow cooker cinnamon apples, for example!

  49. I love my slow cooker, but the one thing I haven’t tried is making chili in it. I plan on trying it this fall. 🙂

  50. I would make soup after soup for winter. I love in Colorado and it gets cold. Soup is the best. I have been shopping for a programmable slow cooker, I so want one.

  51. Sounds like a nice easy lentil recipe (so tired of making the same lentil soup all the time!) can’t wait to give it a try!!

  52. Excited to give this a try. Am excited to maybe win a slow cooker too! Thank you for the recipe and the opportunity.
    Jeanie

  53. Law school as taught me that I need a slow cooker. I would cook just about anything in a slow cooker if it meant coming home to a warm dinner!

  54. This sounds so yummy and hearty. Can’t wait for it to cool down a little more in So Cal so I can bundle up by the fireplace with a bowl of this!

  55. I’ve been dying to try making my own apple butter in a slow cooker. I also would love to try some sort of chili or bean stew in a slow cooker. I’ve been contemplating getting one lately, so this would be a great start!

  56. This looks great Gena! I love the addition of the tamarind! I also love my slow cooker. I even have a tiny one for just me. They are very nice in the winter. Thanks! xo

  57. Chili or some kind of curry…or the recipe you posted! I think they would make the house smell amazing!

  58. Love it! I also recently broke down and asked for a slow cooker for Christmas. I wanted something super practical, so I went with an instant pot which is also a pressure cooker (and a whole bunch of other things). The first thing I made was a pumpkin-pear-apple butter. 🙂

  59. I am very inexperienced with using slow cookers (which my friends think is funny because I cook so much, and they tell me its “so easy!” but I’m all intimidated by it for some reason! haha), so I think I’d start by following your lead and trying that lentil masala!!! Gorgeous Gena!

  60. I would love to try this recipe!!! Do you know if this slow cooker works as a rice cooker too?

  61. This looks delicious! I would love to try this in a slow cooker – so much easier! Do you think green lentils would work as I have tons of them (by your description, they might be more mushy – but would it still work ok?)

  62. daal is one of my favorite meal in winter, I learned lentils were bad for the gut lining and I just don’t want to believe it… legumes are a staple in so many countries around the world! I will soak my lentils for 24 h now

  63. I’ve never cooked lentil in crockpot but love the idea. I will definitely be trying this recipe.

  64. I just love that you can use tamarind in lentils and of course the use of a slow cooker in these busy times with some much to fit into our schedules and days, not even a WANT but rather a desperate need for any form of help to make it all come together for a healthy meal to keep nutrition up for the whole family and their busy lives.

  65. Yum! I would make something like this recipe, like a stew or chili. A slow cooker would be so helpful for long days at school!

  66. Yum! I will make this recipe soon. I have an Instant Pot, so I can saute onions & garlic, then add other ingredients and switch to slow cooking all in the same pot.

  67. I’d like to make a bread pudding, or a chocolate cake type dessert in a slow cooker.

  68. There are so many lentil dishes I’d like to try in a slow cooker, starting with this recipe!

  69. I would start by making split pea soup. I usually just make it on the stove, but often my energy reserves run out before it happens since split peas require a 90 minute wait time. However, if it was cooking all day, I wouldn’t have to prolong my hunger in the evenings.

  70. I would like to make this recipe of the Slow Cooker Masala Lentils. I love lentils my mother would always make lentil soup when I was young and I would like to try this one. It looks delicious.

  71. I’ve been on the lookout for vegan slow cooker recipes. So excited you’ll be sharing them here! Would love to win this nifty slow cooker to whip up these yummy meals! Thanks for sharing!

  72. I’ve never used a slow cooker, but I would love to try one for simply cooking dried beans. It seems like a task well-suited to a slow cooker.

  73. I’ve been contemplating getting a slow cooker too! I love the idea of being able to prep a meal, then walking away so the slow cooker can “do its magic” as you said 🙂 I would love to make this recipe, it sounds so hearty and nourishing!

  74. This looks good. Trying it this weekend. I am a huge fan of dump and go crock pot recipes. I rarely brown anything that goes in and it still gets eaten by my family.

  75. I have wanted one forever too! I live in 550 sq ft in DC with my boyfriend and my cat so I have the same problem- but I think a slow cooker would be worth cluttering up my counters more (already have a vitamix, food processor, toaster and coffeemaker that all get used on the regular) for the time-saving function it provides. The boyfriend does not necessarily agree….
    If I had a slowcooker I’d make this recipe, it sounds great! As it is, I’ll probably make the stovetop version.

  76. I am brand new to the whole vegan thing. I never paid much attention to the foods I ate. This week I started researching and looking up vegan things. I hope to change the foods and way I eat. I would love to have this to cook vegan chili in. 🙂

  77. Never had lentils before but this looks/sounds really good so I think I will be making this soon.

  78. I’ve been thinking lately that a slow cooker would be great to make a big batch of applesauce… and I think I remember seeing somewhere a slow cooker apple butter recipe – that’d be awesome!

  79. This looks so yummy. I love how thick sauces get in the slow cooker. I would love to try a thick vegan tomato sauce, to which I could serve over sweet potato and green vegetables or tofu! Mmmmm

  80. Thanks for the chance!

    My big family loves to cook ,and this will be a hit in our household!

  81. Actually I’d really like to try out the Slow Cooker Masala Lentils recipe you described above. Looks yummy!