An Angry Vegan Dish: Spicy Garlic Lentil Stew


I’ve been rejoicing in making soups, stews, breads and all manner of comfort cooking. I hadn’t done lentils in eons, and, as usual for my recipes, I start with what I have too much of, or what’s going bad. I’m also trying to push my safe zone for spices. So this is something different. As usual, I don’t add salt unless necessary. Feel free to poison yourself when serving it up.


  • 1 lb. dried lentils (yellow or green), washed and picked over for stones
  • 30-40 cloves of garlic, peeled but whole
  • 15 thin-skinned potatoes (not cranky ones, though). Red, gold and butter are all good, washed well and trimmed of ooky stuff
  • 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2C olive oil
  • 15-20 dried red chilis, with seeds
  • 2T cumin
  • 1t tumeric (it’s a healthy spice and I like food that stains things permanently)
  • 1T black pepper
  • 1T paprika
  • 4 quarts water
  • Tart yogurt and basmati rice (optional)


  1. Clearly, you’ll need an 8-quart pot to make this, one with a thick bottom. Otherwise the odds of burning are high.
  2. Prepare the food as listed in ingredients. Have the spices ready to go.
  3. Heat the olive oil on the bottom of the pot. When it’s at the smoke point, toss in the onions and whole garlic cloves. Still quickly to make sure the oil covers the veggies. Add the spices (not the chili peppers) and vigorously mix. Close lid and wait a minute, then add 2C water and stir, then close the lid again.
  4. Wait until most of the water’s been boiled off, then add the dried lentils. Still them until everything is well mixed. Keep stirring until you hear the crackling sound of lentils getting very hot (no, you won’t invent lentil popcorn, sorry!).
  5. Add the rest of the water and bring to a boil.
  6. Add the dried chli peppers (no need to presoak) and cover.
  7. After five minutes at a rolling boil, reduce flame to a simmer.
  8. Stir every 5-10 minutes while it simmers for 40 minutes.

Remove the peppers from the pot and reserve. Serving suggestion: Add 1/2C basmati rice and 1/4C tart yogurt. Place one of the cooked chili peppers across the yogurt.

Serves: 24 cups


Prep time: 10 minutes   Elapsed time: 60 minutes