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This clean eating garam masala red lentil stew recipe is a hearty, tummy-warming bowl of deliciousness!
What do you do when you create a soup recipe from scratch, and in the end, you realize you didn’t add enough liquid for it to actually qualify as soup? You serve it with a smile and call it stew!
If you are partial to Indian food, this dish is WONDERFUL! I fell head over heels in love with it. When I first made this recipe years ago, I made it with chicken broth. But now that I’m 100% plant-based, I switched out the chicken broth for vegetable broth and it turned out just as tasty as the chicken broth version.
I also adjusted the spices. When I first made this Clean Eating Garam Masala Red Lentil Stew, I went heavy on the curry and some folks didn’t like it with such a strong flavor. So I backed off of the curry and it really did mellow things out a bit. But in a good way. I can’t stop eating it. So, so, so yummy!
Are Lentils Healthy?
Lentils are a superfood. They are a wonderful source of fiber, complex carbohydrates, iron, magnesium, folic acid, zinc, and potassium. They are also a wonderful source of plant-based protein. Lentils are very healthy.
And as for this specific dish, it’s vegan and gluten-free as well as dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, and egg-free.
Do You Need To Soak Red Lentils Before Cooking Them?
Red lentils do not require soaking before cooking. At most, you’ll rinse them if they are dusty or need rinsing. Red lentils are very small and cook quickly, so soaking would be overkill.
Do Red Lentils Thicken Stew?
They do! Red lentils fall apart quite easily with cooking, so anything you put them in will naturally thicken. This is great for a red lentil stew, but can also be applied to other soups and stews as well. The trick is to make sure they cook long enough to fall apart. Thankfully, it doesn’t take very long for that to happen.
Red Lentil Stew Variations
While this stew recipe is pretty perfect as is, you can certainly add and subtract ingredients to get different variations of this recipe. You can also add almost any vegetables you like. Here are some ideas:
- Add Spinach – Stir in some fresh spinach leaves into the finished, hot stew. They will wilt on their own in the heat of the stew.
- Add Red Peppers – These will add a certain sweetness to the stew that only red peppers can add.
- Add Cumin – For a varied flavor, consider adding one teaspoon ground cumin. And if you do, pair it with some coriander as well the two work well together.
- Add Potatoes – Chop them into small to medium chunks and toss them into the pot to cook. This will not only thicken the soup, but add more heartiness to it. Note that if it gets too thick from the starch, you may want to add a bit more broth to get a better consistency.
- Add Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes pair quite well with this dish. I highly recommend them.
- Add Spice – If you love a spicy dish, try adding either chili powder, red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to this. While the curry powder offers a mild kick already, adding one or both of these will really take things up a notch!
- Add Parsnips – If you want the texture of adding potatoes without adding all that starch, try parsnips instead!
- Add Turmeric – While this won’t change the flavor a lot, it does add a lot of good-for-you benefits.
- Add Smokiness – If you like a smokey flavor, add about a teaspoon of smoked paprika to this.
How To Serve Red Lentil Stew
You can serve this as a stand-alone dish, or you can pair it with other things. Some possibilities are:
- Serve over a bed of rice – This also creates a complete protein for plant-based folks.
- Serve with some homemade naan – This too will create a complete protein thanks to the grain and legume combo.
- Serve over baked potatoes – This is a delicious way to top a potato for lunch or dinner.
While the recipe doesn’t call for them, some optional garnishes you might enjoy are:
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Fresh lemon juice
- Fresh lime juice
- Grated, fresh ginger
Red Lentil Stew Ingredients
1 large yellow onion – chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 cups dry, red lentils – rinsed
14 oz. can light coconut milk – no sugar added
6 cups vegetable broth – no sugar added
2 cups water
2 tsp. curry powder – or to taste
3 tsp. garam masala – or to taste
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 lb. baby carrots – sliced thin
15 oz. tomato sauce – no sugar added
15 oz. garbanzo beans – rinsed and drained
Salt and pepper – to taste after cooking
How To Make Red Lentil Stew?
Roughly chop your onion and place it into a large pot with the oil.
Cook the onions until they are translucent. In fact, if you know how to caramelize onions, go for it.
Add your red lentils to the pot and stir.
Add the coconut milk to the pot and bring to a low boil.
Add all other ingredients. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently to keep the beans from burning on the bottom of the pot. Keep this at a low simmer.
Stew is finished when the lentils are soft and fully cooked.
Add salt and black pepper to taste.
Instant Pot Red Lentil Stew
If you prefer to make this in an Instant Pot pressure cooker, you can make the switch pretty easily.
- Sauté the onions in the oil on the sauté setting on your Instant Pot.
- Add in all the other ingredients and set the IP to cook for 10 minutes on high pressure.
- Allow for a 10 minute natural release, and then open the steam valve to quick release any remaining steam.
- Add salt and pepper as needed.
How To Store Red Lentil Stew
This will keep well in an airtight container, in the fridge, for up to 4 days.
Can You Freeze This Stew?
It freezes very well! Pack it properly and freeze for up to 8 months. I highly recommend freezing this in portions instead of one big block.
More Healthy Indian-Style Recipes
Garam Masala Red Lentil Stew Recipe
Garam Masala Red Lentil Stew
- 1 large yellow onion (chopped)
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 cups dry, red lentils (rinsed)
- 14 oz. can light coconut milk
- 6 cups vegetable broth (no sugar added)
- 2 cups water
- 2 tsp. curry powder (or to taste)
- 3 tsp. garam masala (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 lb. baby carrots (sliced thin)
- 15 oz. tomato sauce (no sugar added)
- 15 oz. garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained)
- salt and pepper (to taste after cooking)
- Roughly chop your onion and place into a large pot with the olive oil.
- Cook the onions until they are translucent. In fact, if you know how to caramelize onions, go for it.
- Add your red lentils to the pot and stir.
- Add the coconut milk to the pot and bring to a low boil.
- Add all other ingredients. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently to keep the beans from burning on the bottom of the pot. Keep this at a low simmer.
- Stew is finished when the lentils are soft and fully cooked.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
This recipe from the Gracious Pantry archives, originally posted 4/9/2010.