I like to think of myself sort of as a lentil hipster. I used to eat lentils wa-hayy before they became cool. That’s because lentils are a huge part of Indian cuisine, no matter which region the cuisine comes from. I’m sure you’ve seen the word “daal” at an Indian restaurant’s menu. It literally means lentils. When my mom would ask me if daal sounded good for dinner, I’d always ask “what kind?”. And even though we were a meat-eating family, lentils were common at the dinner table because they are cheap, healthy, and very easy to make.
When you go to an Indian restaurant and order daal, they’ll automatically give you either the yellow kind or the green/brown kind. But don’t limit yourself to what’s on Indian restaurants’ menus, because there are a gazillion types of delicious and so so healthy lentils to choose from.
Which is precisely why you should try making lentils at home. You won’t find all the types of lentils at restaurants, but you will find them at specialty grocery stores! For starters though, I’m going to share this recipe for American green lentils, which is a type of lentil you can easily find at any supermarket.
Anddddd this is the point in the post where I stop acting like a lentil expert / annoying lentil hipster. Here’s why: the first time I made lentils in a crockpot, it really humbled me. That’s because I messed it up… BIG time. All the water evaporated, and it turned into a mushy brown mess instead of a hearty stew. “What did you learn, Nadia”, you ask? I’ll tell you what: add plenty of liquid and cook on low. Just do these two things, and you can modify this recipe any way you want after that. Don’t like regular potatoes? Substitute sweet potatoes instead! Think carrots are for bunnies? Skip ‘em here and make carrot cake instead! Cakes aren’t for bunnies. And I would suggest treating yourself to seconds on the cake, because this meal is super duper healthy.
- 2 cups “American” green lentils, rinsed
- 16 oz. beef broth (or vegetable)
- 1 beef (or vegetable) bouillon cube
- 2 cups water
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced into large pieces
- 1 celery stalk, diced into large pieces
- 1 russet or red potato, diced into large pieces
- 1, 28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Rinse the lentils thoroughly (1-2 times).
- Add all ingredients to a crockpot, turn on low and cook for 5-6 hours. No peeking!
- Serve with some brown rice or quinoa if you’d like.