We quite adore Beluga Lentils – they are named beluga as they are supposed to look like little beads of caviar. I wouldn’t really know about that, but do know they are both delicious and easy to turn into a gorgeous dish. They cook quickly, and they hold their shape. They can be used instead of French Green Lentils/Puy Lentils in any dish.
This dish is eeeeasy, with spices toasted, onion and garlic sweated off, and then lentils added and cooked. It can be made ahead of time, finishing off with the yoghurt and sour elements at the time of serving. It can also be frozen at that point, for those late nights especially after a long working day.
Make double the amount of lentils, if you wish, and keep them for salads. They make gorgeous bases for lentils salads.
Spicy Beluga Lentils | Black Lentils with Yoghurt
1 tspn pancha phoron (or use coriander seeds if you can’t get panch phoron)
1 tspn cumin seeds, crushed
1 tspn black mustard seeds
1 pinch fenugreek seeds
1 bay leaf
0.5 tspn turmeric powder
2 Tblspn olive oil plus more
2 cloves garlic
1 stick celery, trimmed of leaves/upper part of stalk
1 cup black beluga lentils
3 cups (or more) vegetable broth or water
few drops of Angostura bitters – if not available use a little tamarind water, amchoor powder, or 1 tspn red wine vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup plain Greek yoghurt
fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
Chop the onion and celery roughly, and using the small bowl of a food processor, pulse them with the garlic until chopped finely. Put aside.
Add 2 Tbspn oil to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, and when hot, stir in the panch phoran/coriander, cumin, mustard seeds, fenugreek and bay leaf. Stir until the spices are sizzling and the mustard seeds are popping. Don’t allow the spices to burn.
Add the turmeric and stir through, then add the chopped onion, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until just softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the lentils and stock or water. Add a little salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until lentils are soft. This will take 30–40 minutes – add more stock or water as needed. At this point, the lentils can be left to cool and placed in the fridge or freezer to use later.
Stir in the bitters, taste, and season with sea salt and pepper.
Transfer lentils to a serving dish and top with yoghurt. Drizzle with olive oil and top with coriander leaves.
recipe notes and alternatives
Add a dried chilli to the pan with the spices, for a little heat.
If using water instead of stock, I recommend my “instant winter stock”. With the water add 0.5 tspn each black peppercorns, allspice berries, and juniper berries, 1 brown cardamom pod, and 1 extra bay leaf. Allow to simmer with the lentils. They can be removed at the end, but I don’t bother, as they can be difficult to spot amongst the black lentils. If it bothers you, tie them in a small piece of muslin before adding, and remove after cooking.
Panch Phoron is available from Indian and Spice shops.
You can use Puy Lentils, Horse Gram lentils or Moth Beans for this dish.