In many cultures, a bag of split peas or lentils will constitute many meals and is an essential staple for nourishment. Lentils are high in protein and fibre, are cheap to buy and last a long time if properly kept.

Here are four dinners that can be made from a single 1kg bag of red lentils. The benefit of red lentils is that of all the dry pulses, they are the quickest and easiest to cook, with no soaking required. These recipes are warming, full of flavour and spice, and are Vegetarian and most are gluten free.

For more on how to buy, store and cook pulses, red lentils included, see Mamabake’s Guide to Buying, Storing, Soaking and Cooking Dry Pulses and Beans.

Recipe 1:
Spiced Red Lentil and Tomato Soup


2 onions
2 cloves garlic
4 large celery ribs
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3 cans of whole tomatoes
4 tablespoons tomato paste
200g grams red lentils (1/2 cup), rinsed
1.5 litres of water or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped parsley
½ cup chopped coriander


1. Diced the onion, celery and finely chop the garlic.

2. Add a few tablespoons of oil to a large pot and put on medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, celery and garlic and cook until the celery is tender and the onion is translucent.

3. Add the spices and cook while stirring for 2 minutes or until the spices are strong and pungent.

4. Add the tomato paste and cook out for 5 minutes while stirring.

5. Add the canned tomatoes, water and lentils and bring to a boil before reducing to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Season to taste.  Stir through the chopped spices and serve.

Recipe 2:
Red Lentil, Eggplant and Coconut Curry


1 red onion
2 garlic cloves
3 cm piece of ginger
1 large red chilli
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
2 cardamom pods, crushed
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 can whole tomatoes
1 can full cream coconut milk
200g red lentils
1 large eggplant
4 large handfuls baby spinach.


  1. Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy based pot and add 3 tablespoons of oil
  2. Dice the onion, finely chop the garlic, ginger and chilli. Saute the onion gently on medium heat until tender and translucent.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli and ground spices and cook until the spices release their fragrance, about 3 minutes.
  4. Dice the eggplant into cubes about 2cm wide and add to the pot. Saute until the eggplant is beginning to caramelise and is well combined with the spices.
  5. Add the tomatoes from the can. Stir to combine. Simmer and reduce for 5 minutes.
  6. Add coconut milk and 250mls of water, bring to a boil.
  7. Add the lentils and simmer for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove the pot from heat and stir through the spinach to wilt. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice and/or flatbreads.

Recipe 3:
Red Lentil and Rice Cakes

200g red lentils, rinsed
½ cup white rice
1 red capsicum
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ cup tasty or mozzarella cheese
¼ cup breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs
bunch of basil
1 egg
salt and pepper


  1. In medium saucepan , fill halfway with water and add the red lentils. Simmer until tender. When cooked, drain and allow to cool.
  2. In the same pot, add a cup of water and the rice. Bring to the boil, place the lid on and reduce the heat. Allow to cook at a simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. When cooked, add to the lentils and rinse out the pot.
  3. Finely dice the onion, capsicum and garlic. Dry out the pot and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Place the pot on medium heat and sauté the onion, capsicum and garlic until the capsicum is tender and onion transluscent. Add the fennel seeds and allow to cook for an additional couple of minutes. Add to the rice and lentils.
  4. Grate the cheese and add to the mixture with the breadcrumbs and egg. Finely chop the basil and add to the mixture. Season with ½ teaspoon of salt and some freshly cracked black pepper. Stir to combine. Allow to sit for 20 minutes before forming into patties.
  5. In a shallow fry pan, add a couple tablespoons of oil and heat on medium heat.
  6. With damp hands, take rough ½ cups of mixture and form into rough patties. Place them in the ban and cook for 5 minutes on one side before turning and cooking 5 minutes on the other side. Try not to overcrowd the pan or they will be difficult to turn and won’t brown correctly.
  7. Serve immediately with green salad. Cooked patties can also be cooled and frozen and kept for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe 4:
Red Lentil Dahl with Kale and Spinach

400 grams red lentils, rinsed
2 onions
3 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
2 star anise
1 large cinnamon stick
6 dried curry leaves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 can of tomatoes, drained of their juices and chopped
1 litres water
1 bunch of kale, shredded
Salt and pepper.


  1. In a large saucepan add the red lentils and cover with 1 litre of water. Bring the water to the boil before reducing to a simmer and allow lentils to cook for 15 minutes until the lentils are soft.
  2. Finely dice the onion and garlic.
  3. Heat a shallow pan on medium heat with 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent and coloured.
  4. Add the spices and curry leaves and cook out for 2 minutes until the spices are fragrant.
  5. Add the tomatoes from the can add cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the red lentils into the pan with the tomato mixture.
  7. Add the shredded kale and stir to combine, simmer and cook for 15 minutes. If the mixture becomes a little dry, add a couple of tablespoons of water. The dahl should be thick but soft.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


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