Madras Lentils

  • Yield : About 5 cups
  • Servings : 5
  • Prep Time : 20m
  • Cook Time : 35m
  • Ready In : 55m
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Nutritional Info

This information is per serving.

  • Calories

  • Calories from Fat

  • Total Fat

  • Saturated Fat

  • Trans Fat

  • Cholesterol

  • Sodium

  • Carbohydrates

  • Dietary Fiber

  • Sugar

  • Protein

  • Serving Size

    About 1 cup (10 oz., 280 g)

Madras Lentils is a spicy Indian recipe packed with healthy, high fiber tomatoes, lentils, and beans. Prepared versions like the one pictured below have about 500 mg of sodium per 5 oz. serving. For rich flavor without adding more salt, increase the amount of spices.

Prepared Madras Lentils

Prepared Madras Lentils, as shown above, can have a thinner consistency; more sauce, less lentils. For a similar consistency, puree 1 or 2 cups using a blender or stick blender prior to adding the yogurt, reduce cooking time, or add water to thin.

You can make Madras Lentils mild or extra spicy by adjusting the amount of chili and cayenne peppers. You can also added minced or pureed chili peppers for added flavor and heat.

Madras lentils is high in fiber and protein. One cup has about 17 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein for less than 300 calories. Two cups of Madras lentils provides a days worth of fiber and up to a half days worth of protein.

Note About Color Differences

The color difference in the two photos is due to the type of lentils. The oblong plate has brown lentils and the round plate green lentils. Using tomato sauce versus diced tomatoes  and adding more yogurt also affects the final color.

Cook’s Tips

  • Substitute 2 cups of cooked red beans for canned beans. Prep and cook times are based on using canned beans.
  • If you do not have blender, you can use a food processor or hand blender to combine the sauce ingredients, or you can use substitute tomato sauce and sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender.
  • Adjust seasonings to taste.
  • Simmer until sauce thickens or to desired consistency. Add water to thin if sauce becomes too thick. Sauce will thin a bit after adding yogurt.

Tempering Yogurt

Unlike cream and sour cream, yogurt has little or no fat. This can cause yogurt to curdle or form small specks when added to hot foods like this recipe. To prevent curdling, you can temper the yogurt by either:

  • Allowing the food to cool 15 minutes or longer and then stir in the yogurt a little at a time.
  • Remove yogurt from refrigerator about 1 hour before adding it to your recipe. Stir the yogurt into the hot food a little at a time.


  • 2 cups (400 g) cooked brown or green lentils (1 cup dry)
  • 14.5 oz. (411 g) can low sodium crushed or stewed tomatoes, or tomato sauce
  • 15 oz. (425 g) can red beans, rinsed
  • 1 small (200 g) onion, diced or minced
  • 2 large (10 g) garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon (1.25 ml) cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon (25 ml) olive or avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) chili powder
  • 1/3 cup (75 g) unflavored natural or Greek yogurt

Method of Preparation

Step 1

For Dry Lentils

Step 2

In a 3qt/l sauce pan, add rinsed lentils and 4 cups of water. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and cook 30 to 40 minutes or until lentils tender. Drain excess liquid if desired.

Step 3

Add tomatoes, onion, garlic, oil, and spices in a blender. Cover and blend until smooth.

Step 4

Add tomato mixture and red beans to lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes stirring occasionally or until sauce thickens.

Step 5

Adjust seasoning to taste. Stir in yogurt prior to serving.

Step 6

Serve over rice or with your favorite meat, fish, or poultry.