Behind The Butter

Lentils in the Kitchen

I feel like I have so much to say right now. Let’s just get it going…my brain is a-whirlin’.

First up, thank you for your participation in the first book discussion! If you have any constructive feedback, don’t hesitate to email me or comment on what you would like to see in the future. I believe the next book in line is The Help. So great! I’m excited. Let’s shoot for mid-June. Go check it out NOW!

Secondly, I’m putting a reader meet-up in PHILLY this Friday along with Sabrina, Anne and Tina. All you local Philly readers, we would love to meet y’all! Please come to Phileo frozen yogurt at 3pm on Friday for a super casual fro-yo/walk. Please email me and let me know you’re coming so I can get an estimate on how many people we’ll have. Wahoo!

Thirdly, I’m so tired. I just feel the need to tell you about my day for a quick second because this is a blog and that’s what I do. So, I wake up at 5:30 and go to the gym to do another one of Gina’s Summer Shape Up workouts. It was crazy hard and afterwards I was going to stay and do some HIIT cardio (high intensity interval training) but I actually felt sick to my stomach so I left. Before the gym, round 6:00 I ate half a banana with almond butter and I wasn’t expecting this workout to be as intense as it was! I guess that’s a good thing though, right?

I ate my breakfast (you saw it earlier) and quickly showered and got ready for my first day of training for my new job. I described my new job here….today as part of my training my boss forced me to sit down and do a local cheese and wine pairing. The agony! The verdict: Carmody cheese from Bellweather farms with local honey and toasted quinoa paired with our 2008 Vitner’s Reserve Riesling might just be manna sent down from heaven. It just might.

My tempeh and hummus wrap paled in comparison but I ate it anyway.

Later I ate a Pure Bar…but my heart was still captured by the cheese. And the Riesling.

After I got home from work I made it BACK to the treadmill for the highly anticipated HIIT. 20 minutes of fast sprints and recovery jogs. Good times. I felt better once it was over.
And now, for the main feature of this post, I have a new What’s Cooking Tonight recipe!

More Indian food? Yes, darlings. Here’s the preface to this lentil-icious bowl you see above:
I have been given the unique opportunity to blog recipes for some of my favorite things…….dried peas and lentils! Honestly, I just don’t think it could get even more exciting. I do love me some legumes and I love to get creative with simple ingredients such as these. So, be on the lookout for new recipes formulated by me during the next two weeks. When I make a winner, I’ll be entering it in a contest as a part of USA Dried Peas, Lentils and Chickpeas (yes, there is such a company).


It actually worked out perfectly though because all day I had been hankerin’ for more of that outstanding dahl I had at the Indian restaurant in Berkeley yesterday. Unlike other dahls I’ve had in the past, it didn’t seem to have a tomato base and even though the flavors were very complex and delicious, it seemed to appear very simple to make.
And so I winged it. But it worked and dare I say almost rivaled my bowl yesterday? Seriously. Here’s the deal.
Combine 1/2 cup dry red lentils in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil on the stove.

While you’ve got that goin’, evaluate your spice cabinet.

Sorry to disappoint you, but yes, I do use minced garlic from time to time. It saves time, yo. Other players you need are garam masala, cumin seed, coriander (it’s hiding!), turmeric and sea salt. I recently started using Fleur de Sel and can really notice a difference in the taste of my food…it’s fantastic and really brings out the flavors of what you’re cooking with. Conveniently, I’ve added it to my Open Sky store!
Anyways. Getting back to the lentils. Once the pot starts to boil, turn down the heat to medium/low and let her simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. It should start to thicken up and be more like a split pea soup consistency now.
Now for the fun (but possibly detrimental) part. Get you some coconut oil and heat up 1 tbsp in a large skillet or cast iron.

If you live on the third floor of an apartment with a window box, it’s probably already melted due to the 80 degree conditions of your small kitchen. One up!

Heat the oil on medium/high heat and then add your spices. This toasts the spices and really brings out an intense flavor. Add 1 tsp cumin seeds:

1/4 tsp turmeric:

1/2 tsp coriander (not 1/4th like the picture…do not be fooled):

1/2 tsp garam masala:

And finally, 2 tsp minced garlic:

And now we shall pause. Y’all, please be careful with the garlic. Don’t burn it. I burned it tonight and had to completely re-do this dish (the garlic looked like fried ants in my coconut oil and I had to dump the whole thing). Burning the garlic is sort of like burning the onions. It WILL ruin the entire final dish. To ensure your garlic does not become ants like mine, turn down the heat to low/medium, add the garlic and then stir everything quickly. You may even want to take the skillet OFF the stove at this point because it’s probably screaming hot.
Can you see the ants? Fail.

But since I was trained on matters such as this, I regained my composure quickly, dumped the burned matter and started over. No big deal.
If you have timed this correctly, your lentils should now be very tender and at a stew-like consistency. Add them to the skillet with the oil and spices.

Stir! Stir! Stir!
Season with salt and pepper and have yourself a bowl of deliciousness.

It was absolutely delicious and perfectly spiced, post burned garlic episode. I also had a big plate of roasted broccoli, grape tomatoes and Mary’s crackers with mine.


Here’s the complete recipe again, if you want to write it down or print.
Simple Red Lentil Dahl

Serves 1 or 2

1/2 cup red lentils
2 cups water
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp sea salt
Combine the lentils and the water in a medium sized pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer—uncovered—for about 25
minutes until tender.
After about 15 minutes, heat up the coconut oil in a skillet over medium/high heat. Add the spices and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and
add the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds (carefully!) and then add the cooked lentils.
Stir to combine everything, season with sea salt and pepper and then serve. For a thinner soup, add more water at the end of the cooking process. This dahl
thickens up significantly off the heat, in your bowl.
And there you have it. I also baked these beauties:

And now I shall go eat one. Or two. Or three.

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  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin
    June 1, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    I loooove lentils! Thank you so much for the walk through. I am always scared of dried beans for some reason. I found a really awesome brand of organic canned lentils.. Westbrae, sold at Whole Foods – but its not the same!

  • Shelly
    June 1, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    I adore lentils! My favorite way of eating them manages to be both southern and healthy too (amazingly enough). I cook the lentils with garlic, onions, salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and whatever else strikes my fancy (sometimes I add diced tomatoes or some chopped carrots)- then I serve them over cornbread with a big scoop of chow chow (pickled green pepper relish) on top. The best side to go with this is stewed okra and tomatoes.

  • Claire
    June 1, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    I have all these ingredients so I must make this! I love indian lentil dishes so much and can’t wait to try it. What cookies did you end up making?

    • jenna
      June 1, 2010 at 8:06 pm

      vegan chocolate oatmeal for the winner of Angela’s Shop 4 a Cause auction last week! 🙂

  • Jen
    June 1, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    can you olive oil or another oil in place of the coconut? thanks!

    • jenna
      June 1, 2010 at 8:06 pm

      You may!

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg
    June 1, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Ooooh, I think those cookies are my favorite part of this post!! Yum!

    Have fun in Philly!

  • Krista
    June 1, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Hey Jenna!
    If I can get out of work early enough on Friday, I’d love to meet up with you girls…I live only a few blocks away from Phileo! It is yum!! 🙂

  • Suzanne de Cornelia
    June 1, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Love lentils–thanks for the recipe–looks and sounds delish. Read an article the other day on how modern people do not get enough fiber and all the health benefits in doing so. Beans and legumes were listed as the best fiber.

    I’d make some of those cookies–but am reading ‘Zero to Zillionaire’ by Chellie Campbell–can’t put down. Love the demystifying insights, motivating ideas, and witty writing, too.

  • Amanda
    June 1, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Girl, you need to give that tempeh wrap more credit! Looks good!! 🙂

  • Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog)
    June 1, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    I love lentils! That dahl looks so creamy and delicious. 🙂


  • Jennu
    June 1, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Ain’t no shame in using minced garlic!

  • Kati
    June 1, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    You did have a lot to say! 😉 I’m afraid the extent of my lentil consumption is Amy’s lentil soup. So good though!

  • Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks
    June 1, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Your dahl looks fantastic! I haven’t cooked Indian food in a while, but you’ve inspired me to whip something up soon.

  • Sarah W.
    June 1, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    I can’t get out of work early enough to make it on time on Friday. Bummer. Have fun though!

  • Jil @ Peace, Love & Munchies
    June 1, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Looks absolutely delicious!!

  • Ameena
    June 1, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    I’m Indian so ofcourse I love lentils. I’ve never used coconut oil when making them though so thanks for the idea!

  • Sarah for Real
    June 1, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    I’ve never really given lentils a chance. I suppose I really should. My college town had an actual Lentil Festival every year because growing it was such a big deal there (small farming town turned university type situation). Sigh… I never went to try all that goodness…

  • Lindsay @ Summit Sandwiches
    June 1, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    What a great way to use coconut oil in a recipe! I love lentils, so I’m definitely going to try this recipe out. Thanks for sharing, Jenna! I love this “What’s Cooking” feature. Your photo pictorials are so fun. 🙂 And they help make it seem less intimidating than it might be without them.

  • Stacey@
    June 1, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    What are those cookies, they look amazing.

    • jenna
      June 1, 2010 at 8:28 pm

      dark chocolate oatmeal out of eat, drink and be vegan!

  • Amanda
    June 1, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Aww Philly meet up! I’ll be at work still sadly .. enjoy your visit, though!

  • Karina (Like Some Cat from Japan)
    June 1, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    I love lentils so much, they are my favorite! Especially when they are flavored with Indian spices. The recipe looks delicious!
    And I am loving those cookies 🙂 They look so perfect!

  • Karen
    June 1, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Jenna, you’re starting to remind me of Julia Childs, I just thought she was so cool….your passion for life and food is so much fun. Loved the bit about ants, she so would have said that…..

  • allison @ thesundayflog
    June 1, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    lentils are my absolutely favorite thing! when i studied abroad in africa, they had the most perfect lentils that cooked in 5 minutes. the only lentils ive been able to find around here take an hour! luckily i spotted sprouted green lentils that cook in 5 minutes from whole foods. im not an indian food fan, but yours look tastayyyy

  • allison @ thesundayflog
    June 1, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    also, im in PHILLY. i would love to meet up on friday, but i work until 5:30. that bums me out big time 🙁 you guys cant do it any later??

  • BakeMe
    June 1, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Everything looks so delicious! Seems like you had a tough but rewarding day 🙂

  • Heather Rose
    June 1, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    My friend just told me about The Help, maybe I’ll join in on the next book discussion! I was just thinking that I needed to broaden my reading horizons a bit more and get into some heavier material.

    And the dish looks amazing too!

  • Heather Rose
    June 1, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    My friend just told me about The Help, maybe I’ll join in on the next book discussion! I was just thinking that I needed to broaden my reading horizons a bit more and get into some heavier material.

    And the dish looks amazing too!

  • Jenna
    June 1, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    darn it, I’ll be working during the meet up..I’m sad!

  • Camille
    June 1, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Indian food makes my heart siiiiing!

  • Annie @ stronghealthyfit
    June 1, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Indian spiced lentils are one of my favorite things to eat these days! Good tutorial 🙂

  • Amy
    June 1, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    I love lentils in pretty much every way shape and form. Dahl? Heck yes! Its nice to have such a straight-forward recipe, thank you! Mmmm Indian Food….

  • Julia (Taste of Living)
    June 1, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Just made my first lentil soup and LOVED it. I used red lentils too:

    x Julia (Taste of Living)

  • Helen
    June 2, 2010 at 12:05 am

    We so need blogger meet ups in the UK….I am considering organising one soon. I hope you get a lot of people at your meet up. Your dinner looks lovely. So delicious and simple. Just what you need I can imagine after a strenuous day tasting wine and cheese! (so jealous!)

  • Melissa Cari @ Miles for Markets
    June 2, 2010 at 2:13 am

    I just emailed you, but in case you didn’t get it – I’ll definitely be there 🙂 Looking forward to meeting you and the other girls! And of course for the fro-yo…

  • Nora@LiveLifeEatRight
    June 2, 2010 at 3:13 am

    Your job sounds so stressful…whew! AH I CANT BELIEVE YOU GET TO DO THAT!!! Sounds like my dream, can’t wait to hear more! And despite the fact that you are tired I think you have the best attitude!

  • Jessica @ How Sweet It Is
    June 2, 2010 at 3:33 am

    Those cookies look wonderful. I have never had that dish, but I would love to try it!

  • eatmovelove
    June 2, 2010 at 4:03 am

    Hmm…cheese and wine? Tough day 🙂
    Great recipe. I don’t see a link up to your Open Sky store on your site though?? Are you putting one up?

  • M
    June 2, 2010 at 4:04 am

    I’ve been looking forward to reading more details about the Philly meet up, but now that I know it’s Friday at 3:00, I can’t make it because I work. :-/

  • Ashley
    June 2, 2010 at 4:32 am

    Thanks for the recipe!! I’ve been dying to make my own dahl at home. Also love how you use coconut oil. Need more of that since I used my last jar as moisturizer 🙂

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman
    June 2, 2010 at 5:09 am

    I love beans and legumes, but I never know how to cook them. Thanks for the lesson. It sounds good!

  • Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble)
    June 2, 2010 at 5:13 am

    So sad I missed the last book discussion, I will get to reading the next book for the next one!

    I LOVE dal, that looks awesome- I think I will try it!


  • RhodeyGirl
    June 2, 2010 at 5:29 am

    That looks so so comforting!

  • Kristin (Salty Tooth)
    June 2, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Oh my gosh, I have those measuring spoons. They are from my first cookbook that I got as a birthday gift when I was a little kid. I love them! So funny to see the same spoons on your blog!

  • Robyn @ Frugal 'n' Fit!
    June 2, 2010 at 5:46 am

    I really need to get some garam masala. I have all of the other spices, except this! So many Indian dishes have escaped my grasp because of this…

    I saw My Antonia at the bookstore the other day and thought of you! You are pervading my consciousness! Well done 🙂

  • StephanieTBS
    June 2, 2010 at 5:59 am

    That wrap looks amazing-I might have to make that for lunch today! I am so sad I won’t be able to make it to the meet-up on Friday! I’ll still be at work. But have fun!!! Philly is great.

  • Lindsey
    June 2, 2010 at 6:07 am

    Just bought a bag of red lentils on Monday! I’m on it! 😀

  • diana@mymarblerye
    June 2, 2010 at 6:22 am

    you make me crave indian food…always!

  • j.l.
    June 2, 2010 at 6:27 am

    d’oh. take it from a philly native when i tell you guys to skip the fro-yo crapola. i’d recommed capogiro gelato. its is so much more delicious and locally sustainable over those crappy yogurt chains. you girls are turing down the filet mignon of frozen treats for the creamy equivalent of white castle. just sayin’… you won’t regret it and you’ll have a much better foodie memory of philly.

  • Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down)
    June 2, 2010 at 6:34 am

    Lentils are honestly one of my favorite things to eat. They’re so versatile! 😀

  • Marcia
    June 2, 2010 at 6:37 am

    I LOVE red lentils. I have a similar recipe that came from my friend from Bangladesh:

    I’ll have to try adding garam masala…

  • Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly
    June 2, 2010 at 6:38 am

    Have fun at your meet-up!!! I am jealous but I don’t think I can make it from Texas in time! hehe!

  • Kelly
    June 2, 2010 at 6:41 am

    How come the meet up is so early?!?! Us working girls would have liked to be able to come toooo.

  • shannon (the daily balance)
    June 2, 2010 at 6:43 am

    is it just me, or does this post totally remind you guys of the Pioneer Woman?!

    Not that that’s a bad thing — I adore her!

  • jenna
    June 2, 2010 at 6:45 am

    gosh sounds like you have such a horrible job at the winery… 😉 sounds pretty amazing! Your cookies look so good! I love ED&BV it’s the best cook book, even for those who are not vegan.

  • Annie D. from Annie'sSimpleLife
    June 2, 2010 at 6:54 am

    mmmmmmmm lentils! That’s what we had for dinner last night! …and what I have for lunch today!

  • Becca
    June 2, 2010 at 6:55 am

    Can’t to see the discussion about The Help! It’s my favorite book of all time!

  • Angharad
    June 2, 2010 at 6:58 am

    YES. This makes me really happy! Lentils are so good and so comforting. Honestly though, red lentils have been kind of bugging me because they always seem to turn ton mush so I’ve been favouring the french/brown kind. Maybe I’ll give the reds another chance!

    Dahl = <3

  • Teresa
    June 2, 2010 at 6:58 am

    I love it when you share your easy step by step recipies. They are so easy to follow and always so delicious. Your posts are always so fun and upbeat………you have a wonderful zesty personality ! Thanks for sharing

  • Beth @ DiningAndDishing
    June 2, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Sometimes I cheat with minced garlic too :). I always found the flavor wasn’t the greatest though, until I bought some organic minced garlic from Whole Foods. There is SUCH a difference! Tastes great

  • Meggilizz
    June 2, 2010 at 7:03 am

    NOM!! Coconut oil ROCKS!!!!! 🙂 Looks great Jenna!

  • Laura
    June 2, 2010 at 7:11 am

    I agree with comment #46. Even if you can’t have the meet-up there, you should check out Capogiro while you’re in Philly: They have the most amazing, creative flavors. (Also, the 13th Street or Rittenhouse Square Capogiros are in much hipper/scenic neighborhoods for walking than Phileo on South Street).

    Hope you enjoy your visit!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish)
    June 2, 2010 at 7:17 am

    i’m making this ASAP…i don’t know why, but my hubby doesn’t like indian food, so i never really get to eat it. if i could make my own that would be fabulous 🙂

  • Tina
    June 2, 2010 at 7:18 am

    I just finished The Help, so I’m in! I also just found a place that sells red lentils & cannot wait to get some!

  • MMiller
    June 2, 2010 at 7:32 am

    I have never had Dahl! I’m not a lentil person! But I feel the need to try it now!

    When I worked in Philly, I was near where you will be! I worked right across from the Liberty Bell! You must hit up Reading Terminal Market on Friday morning! So wish I was there to meet you! But, alas, I am a Florida girl now! Have fun in Philly!

  • Lizzie
    June 2, 2010 at 7:50 am

    This looks SO good!! Must try it soon. I am always looking for ways to get some lentils in my diet!! They’re so good for you! Is this going in the recipe section?

  • Paige (Running Around Normal)
    June 2, 2010 at 8:21 am

    I can’t believe there’s a company that’s called Dried peas, Lentils, and Chickpeas! hehe
    That dish looks amazing.
    Way to get in a great workout!

  • Lisa
    June 2, 2010 at 9:05 am

    I always forget about beans! They are so healthy and filling. I really need to be eating more of them!

  • Michelle @ NewLeafEats
    June 2, 2010 at 9:56 am

    I burn my garlic all the time. My electric stove doesn’t regulate heat well. Plus I just turn the temperature up way too high for garlic…

    I need to make lentil soup. I love Amy’s canned lentil soup, and I imagine homemade wouldn’t be too difficult…

    Your comment on local honey, cheese, and wine makes me want to go home and dive into my local honey, brie, and Moscato.

  • Becky
    June 2, 2010 at 9:58 am

    I’m going to second what someone said above, Phileo is kind of gross, the last time I was there, it was very disappointing. I would also recommend Capogiro! The thought of you all meeting on South Street and walking around there and having that be your Philly meet up experience makes me sad. South Street is also pretty gross, dirty, and definitely not a nice reflection of what Philly has to offer. I am going to try and come out on Friday though! If you want some great Philly suggestions (wine? cheese?) I’d (and I’m sure the other Philly readers would as well!) be happy to point you in the right direction!
    Keep us posted if anything (time/location) changes!

  • Kelly
    June 2, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Can’t wait to try this! I just tried my hand at Indian food for the first time last Sunday and am looking forward to another try…and so is my guy. 🙂

  • Amy D
    June 2, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Congratulations on starting your new job, it sounds pretty amazing! 🙂 Btw, I just TOTALLY just went on google maps to see how long it would take me to make it to the reader meet-up this Friday. I live in Akron, Ohio so I didn’t think the ride would be too bad… but it’s about 7ish hours so I won’t be make it! Haha.

    One last thought: I love how you take the pictures of your spices so that you can see the measurement marked on the spoon. Did that make sense? It’s really cool. Keep the recipes coming! 🙂

  • tasha - the clean eating mama
    June 2, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Mmm mmm mmmmmm!!! I love lentils!

  • Alex
    June 2, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I will definitely be there on Friday but may be a few minutes late. I also have to second that Phileo is not all its cracked up to be. If you want frozen yogurt in this city you go to Yogorino. Honestly, anything on South St isn’t worth the crowds.

  • sassy molassy
    June 2, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Not burning garlic is a tough thing to do! And I want one or three of those cookies!

  • Lora
    April 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    AH! I just finished making this after having a massive craving for Indian takeout, and this BEATS the dal makhani I usually order here in Chicago, and I didn’t even have coconut oil. The flavors are spot on and what’s more, I didn’t even have to wait 45 minutes for the delivery guy. This is a life-changing recipe. Thank you!