Everyday lentil and vegetable curry

Everyday lentil and vegetable curry

I Love Curry
Jonathan Gregson

A staple for many people on the west coast of India. There are many variations; some are hotter, others add ginger or garlic. I like to make it with the added vegetables here, so I don’t need to cook another dish. You can adapt this nearly endlessly to your tastes, with or without the sugar, coconut and vegetables. Choose any vegetables you like, though starchy varieties aren’t traditional. I have listed those I often use, but I vary them depending on the season and what I have in the fridge.

For the curry


Quantity Ingredient
200g split pigeon pea lentils, well washed
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon tamarind paste, or to taste
2 tablespoons unsweetened desiccated coconut, (optional)
1 1/2-2 1/2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste (optional)

For the tarka

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, (optional)
2 teaspoons split and husked black gram, if you have it
2 cloves
2-3 dried red chillies
12 fresh curry leaves
2 small onions, finely sliced
2 tomatoes, each cut into 6 wedges
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
salt, to taste

For the vegetables (optional)

Quantity Ingredient
3 japanese or small aubergines, halved lengthwise then cut across into 3
8 okra, topped, tailed and halved widthways
handful green beans


  1. Put the lentils in a big pan with 1 litre of water and bring to a boil. If any scum forms on top, skim it off. Add the turmeric. Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are really soft and starting to break down; it should take around 20 minutes. Add the aubergines (if using) and continue cooking gently.
  2. Meanwhile, make the tarka. Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the mustard, cumin and sesame seeds, split black lentils (if using), cloves and whole dried chillies. Once the mustard seeds have stopped popping, add the curry leaves and, a beat later, the onions. Cook gently until the onions are soft and starting to colour. Add the tomatoes, okra (if using), ground coriander and salt. Stir-fry for four minutes and, once the tomatoes start to soften, pour everything into the lentil curry. Add the tamarind, coconut and sugar (if using). Add the green beans (if using) and simmer for five minutes, or until your vegetables are done. Taste, adjust the salt, sugar and tamarind, then serve.
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