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Easy Madras Lentils Recipe

Madras Lentils

Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Servings 8
Keyword Madras Lentils


  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 4 tbsp butter or ghee
  • 1 large onion finely chopped (340 g/12 oz)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt divided use
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds (or 1 tsp ground)
  • 1 minced jalapeno
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic (9 large cloves)
  • 1 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 540 mL can brown lentils (18 oz)
  • 1 540 mL can kidney beans (18 oz)
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro


  • Heat oil and butter in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and 1 tsp of the salt. Cook until onion is soft and golden, about 10 minutes (longer if onion was fridge-cold or not super-finely chopped). Stir frequently and reduce heat if it starts charring. It should be translucent and almost caramelized.
  • Reduce heat to medium and stir in cumin seeds, cooking until they smell fragrant (about a minute).
  • Add chili, garlic and ginger and remaining spices and cook a minute more.
  • Add tomato paste and cook a few minutes until it turns a shade darker and the oil shimmers on top.
  • Stir in the water, lentils, beans, cream and remaining 1 tsp salt.
  • Reduce heat to low simmer, covered, at least 10 minutes. (If you have time to simmer longer, the flavour gets even better with time. Use 1 cup water instead of ½ cup because it will thicken up quite a bit, then simmer up to 1 hour, stirring every now and then.)
  • Stir in cilantro and serve.
Keyword Madras Lentils