Inexpensive red lentils are spruced up with an assortment of spices, including coriander, cumin, cayenne, and turmeric, in addition to onion, garlic, ginger, coconut milk, and canned tomatoes. I like a Vadouvan curry blend for its toasted shallot, onion, and garlic notes. But, you can easily substitute your favorite Indian curry spice blend. This may look like a lot of ingredients, but the majority are spices. All and all, it's a simple and homey dish.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
Sea salt, to taste
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground
2 tablespoons Vadouvan spice blend or Indian curry blend
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 (28 ounce) can chopped tomatoes with juices
1 pound red lentils, washed and picked over
2 quarts water, vegetable, or chicken stock
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
2 large handfuls Swiss chard leaves, chopped
1 (14 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
Juice of 1/2 lime
Chopped cilantro
Cashews (toasted in a dry skillet until lightly browned), chopped


Step 1
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt, ground cumin and coriander, curry powder, and turmeric, and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the canned tomatoes with their juices. Taste and re-season with salt as needed.

Step 2
Stir in the lentils and water or stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes. Season with black pepper and cayenne to taste. Taste and adjust for salt.

Step 3
Add the Swiss chard, coconut milk, and lime juice, and cook until the chard is wilted and the coconut milk is heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 4
Ladle into individual bowls. Top with chopped cilantro and toasted chopped cashews. Serve with some crusty bread.