Velvety black lentil curry

Velvety black lentil curry

I Love Curry
Jonathan Gregson

This is essentially the restaurant-style lentil dish that we all love. A professional kitchen would leave these cooking really gently overnight on top of the warm tandoor oven so they turn into an even, creamy mass. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do the same! This curry is in fact very simple to make, though it takes a while to cook, and the flavour of earthy lentils, tart tomatoes, spices, rich cream and butter is divine. Serve with Naan or Paratha.


Quantity Ingredient
80g whole black gram
20g fresh root ginger, peeled weight, plus a little in julienne to serve
5 large garlic cloves
4 largish tomatoes
salt, to taste
80-100ml double cream
2-4 tablespoons butter, or to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chilli powder, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves, crushed
100g cooked red kidney beans


  1. Wash the black gram and pick out and discard any discoloured lentils you can see. Place them in a large bowl, cover with fresh water and leave to soak for at least two hours, or preferably overnight.
  2. Rinse the lentils and tip them, with 1½ litres of fresh water, into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 1–1½ hours, or until soft; stir occasionally and top up with water, if necessary.
  3. Meanwhile, blend together the 20g ginger, garlic and tomatoes until smooth (I use my trusty stick blender). Pour this mixture into the soft lentils along with some salt, cover and cook for a further hour. Stir occasionally and add extra hot water, if necessary.
  4. By now the lentils should be very soft and a little creamy. Lightly mash some of them against the side of the pan with your spoon. Add the cream, butter, spices, crushed fenugreek leaves and a little more salt, to taste, along with the red kidney beans. Cook for another 10 minutes, mashing a few more of the lentils if necessary until you have a creamy, homogenous curry. Taste, adjust the seasoning and sprinkle with the ginger julienne.
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