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Quick Curried Lentils in Tomato Sauce

In this Indian-inspired vegetarian main, top-notch jarred tomato sauce and canned lentils save hours of work. When chosen well, jarred tomato sauce can rival your own. The best ones include tomatoes and seasonings but are free of preservatives, sugar, and corn syrup.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

Source: Everyday Food, March 2007


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (2 inches long), peeled and finely grated
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 jar (26 ounces) best-quality store-bought tomato sauce
  • 2 cans (20 ounces each) cooked lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish (optional)
  • Cooked basmati (or other long-grain white) rice, for serving


  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add onion and ginger; season with salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 5 to 8 minutes.

  2. Add spices; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.

  3. Add tomato sauce, lentils, and 1 cup water. Simmer until slightly thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in lime juice and cilantro; season with salt.

  4. Serve lentil mixture with rice; garnish with more cilantro, if desired.

Reviews Add a comment

  • MirToni
    28 OCT, 2014
    Made exactly as directed with one exception - used 1 cup of vegetable stock instead of 1 cup of water. Used the recipe for garam masala: 4tsp. ground coriander, 2tsp. each ground pepper and ground cumin, 1 tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. each ground cardamom and ground cloves. (pg. 64 Everyday Food, March 2007) Served with basmati rice and naan. Great recipe!
  • mandysmuffins
    27 FEB, 2013
    Wow! This was wonderful
  • JWally86
    8 JAN, 2013
    Very authentic tasting! Used my own tomato sauce and added roasted cauliflower and chickpeas to bulk it up a bit. Cilantro and lime really took the dish to the next level--hoping it freezes well as it would be great to defrost on a busy week night!
  • etmoi
    26 SEP, 2011
    Hi Eviebelle--when you used dried lentils, did you add them straight to the recipe dried, or did you cook them first? I was thinking I would do the same thing, thanks!
  • Eviebelle
    19 SEP, 2011
    This is one of our favorite recipes. Very, very tasty. I use Muir Glen for the "best quality" sauce, and I can never find canned lentils anywhere, so I just use about 13 oz dried.