Bengal tiger lentil curry

Bengal tiger lentil curry

Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast
Emma Lee

A classic North Indian dish, this can be dramatic looking, as the yellow lentils stand out from the smaller black pulses. Most importantly, it is luscious and delicious. Once the lentils soften, the more you stir them the creamier they become. Lentils and butter go really well together, so I do recommend you add a little butter at the end before serving. This is great with rice or Indian breads.


Quantity Ingredient
20g root ginger, half of it sliced into fine julienne, (peeled weight)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
4 small-ish tomatoes, quartered
175g bengal gram
75g split black gram
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
salt, to taste
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 large-ish onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
handful coriander leaves, chopped
10-20g unsalted butter, to serve (optional, see recipe introduction)


  1. Using a stick blender, blend the 10 g chunk of ginger and the garlic with a little water until smooth. Separately blend the tomatoes until smooth. Set both aside. Place both types of lentil in a bowl and wash in several changes of water, until the water runs clear. Now tip them into a large pot, pour in enough water to cover by 7.5 cm and bring to the boil. Skim any scum from the surface. Add the turmeric and some salt. Cook, partially covered, giving an occasional stir, until the lentils have softened and are starting to look homogeneous with the water. (Stir more often as they become tender.)
  2. After about 40 minutes, start to make the tarka, but remember to keep giving the lentils a stir. Heat the oil or ghee in a small non-stick saucepan. Add the cumin seeds and, once they sizzle and darken, add the onion and cook until colouring at the edges. Add the ginger and garlic paste and cook until the extra moisture has evaporated and the garlic is starting to colour. Add the tomatoes and remaining ground spices and cook down for 10–15 minutes, until the masala releases oil.
  3. Pour the tarka into the lentils with the ginger julienne, adding water from the kettle if it seems too thick. Make sure the whole thing looks like a lovely unctuous mass (if not, cook a little longer, adding water if necessary) then taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in the chopped coriander and butter, if using, and serve.
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