I don’t know about you, but I enjoy eating out. It's one of the activities that I truly miss due to the pandemic. Trying different restaurants and new cultures always brings a smile to my face and lightness to my heart.
Small local eateries are way more enticing to me than chain restaurants. One such gem in our area is a small Indian restaurant with an AMAZING buffet - even for vegans. But alas! Not during COVID.
So, to whet our appetite of Indian food, I worked to re-create a popular dish, “Madras Lentils,” and make it vegan as well. The following recipe is not only vegan-friendly, but also has turmeric and black pepper added in for anti-inflammatory benefits.
This is a pressure cooker recipe (Instant Pot). For those without a pressure cooker, stovetop cooking directions are included below.
Vegan Madras Lentils
Time: about one hour, not including bean soaking time
- ½ C Black lentils (they are much smaller than brown lentils)
- ⅓ C Small Red Beans (can use red or kidney beans)
- 1T Avocado Oil for sauteing (or other neutral tasting oil)
- 1½ tsp Cumin powder (use a good quality one such as McCormicks )
- A pinch of Cayenne powder (may adjust to your preference of spiciness)
- ½ tsp Ginger powder
- ½ tsp Turmeric powder (use a good quality one)
- 1-2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- ¼ Onion, chopped
- 2 Medium Roma Tomatoes, chopped (preferably organic)*
- 1 ¾ C Water
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp Black pepper, ground
- 1 T Canned Coconut Cream
- 1T Coconut Oil
- Rinse red beans and place in a pot with enough water to cover plus 2”. Soak overnight or bring to a rapid boil over high heat for 1 minute. Cover, remove from heat and soak for one hour. Drain the beans.
- Set Instant Pot to saute low. When the IP is hot, add oil and cumin, cayenne, turmeric, and ginger, stirring to flavor the oil. Then add the minced garlic and chopped onion. Saute, stirring constantly for one minute. Add chopped tomatoes, stirring to release any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Press cancel.
- Add the black lentils and soaked, drained red beans to the Instant Pot along with the 1¾ C water along with the Kosher salt and black pepper. Set the Instant Pot to “beans’ or “pressure” cook making certain that it is on the “high” setting, for 45 minutes. Sit back and let the magic happen.
- When the 45 minutes are up, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release its pressure. When the pin drops, open the lid. Give it a stir adding in the canned coconut cream and coconut oil. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.
Enjoy with Indian flatbread, naan, or pita bread. Serve it with rice or a baked potato and avocado for a fresh coolness.
- Rinse red beans and place in a pot with enough water to cover plus 2”. Soak overnight or bring to a rapid boil over high heat for 1 minute. Cover, remove from heat and soak for one hour. Drain the beans. Once the red beans are soaked, drain them into a colander.
- Heat a pan. When the pan is hot add the oil and saute the spices, garlic & onion for 1-2 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, lentils, beans, water, Kosher salt & black pepper. Stir.
- Bring to a boil and cook for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the beans are cooked through (soft) and most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Add the coconut cream and coconut oil, combining thoroughly. Adjust seasonings to your liking.
*Food for Thought:*
Check out the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list to see the recommendations of which produce to buy organic to avoid heavy levels of pesticides.
Vickey Roa is a retired teacher living with her husband and two dogs. When she isn’t at the beach, she likes to experiment with new recipes using her husband as a guinea pig.