Lentils with tamarind sauce

Neil Perry
A warming Indian vegetarian curry to lift your spirits.
A warming Indian vegetarian curry to lift your spirits. Photo: William Meppem

This lentil dish is easy to prepare and has all the wonderful flavours that Indian cooking has to offer.


1/2 cup light vegetable oil

1 cup thinly sliced onion

2 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp paprika

1 cup canned chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

1 cup tamarind water (available from Asian grocers; or to make your own, see below)

2 cans cooked lentils, drained and liquid reserved

1 1/2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp ground roasted cumin

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

4 red shallots, finely sliced


Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan over a medium heat.

Add the onion and fry until it is lightly browned, stirring so it doesn't stick and burn.

Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the turmeric and paprika and cook for a moment.

Add the tomatoes and ginger and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the tamarind water and the reserved lentil liquid.

Simmer the mixture, covered, over a low heat for 15-20 minutes.

Add the lentils, garam masala and cumin and cook for about 3 minutes or until the lentils are heated through.

Check seasoning, place in a bowl and sprinkle with shallots.

Serve with steamed rice or a rice pilaf.

Tamarind water

Soak 1 cup tamarind pulp in 1 1/2 cups boiling water for 20 minutes, then strain it.

Serves 4