Red Lentil Stew


Many years ago, a close friend from Nagaland introduced me to the simplicity and hearty deliciousness of red lentils. I didn’t grow up with lentils as part of my diet so I never knew what to do with them or how to prepare them. Add to that the variety of lentils on display (red, green, brown, you name it) and I was just too intimidated to give it a go. One afternoon my friend made them for a group of us lunching at her home; she prepared an amazing spread of traditional Naga food and it was a feast for the senses! This Red Lentil Stew was one of my favorite dishes (it’s basically a version of Indian dal) and when I learned how incredibly easy it was to make, I was sold.

Red lentils are great to work with because they’re affordable, filling, and they cook up fast. Their exteriors are soft so what looks like a slow-cooked meal that’s been sitting on your stovetop simmering for hours, really only needs to take about twenty minutes. Even better, they’re highly nutritional. Besides being rich in folate, Vitamin A and potassium, they are also high in fiber AND equal to a serving of meat with regards to protein. But with no saturated fat, they give you all that protein without the fat that comes along with meat. Hooray for red lentils!

This stew can be served over rice as seen above or it can be served as a simple soup. You could even serve it as a dal with naan or other bread for dipping. Love the versatility of this dish!


Red lentils are actually more orange in color before cooking.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp dill
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Red lentils do not need to be soaked prior to cooking but do give them a good rinse. In a large soup pot, combine the rinsed lentils with the water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the lentils for about 15 minutes. The lentils will soften and turn mushy but don’t worry, they will taste divine! Add the turmeric and dill, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve piping hot.

Red lentils can be served straight as a soup. Add a dash of cayenne pepper for color and zing!

Red lentils can be served straight as a soup. Add a dash of cayenne pepper for color and zing!

Happy eating!