Madras Lentils

Get ready for a flavor explosion with our Madras Lentils recipe! You’ll be tempted to batch cook this delectable dish, ensuring a week’s worth of satisfying lunches in your freezer.

Madras lentils served on a plate.

Let’s talk about Tasty Bite. Have you ever tried these delectable little packages? My favorite is the Tasty Bite Madras Lentils, which tastes like an Indian, flavor-infused hearty vegetarian chili. Which is obviously right up my alley.

While you really can’t beat one-step-one-minute convenience, you CAN make a huge batch for really cheap in just a few hours at home. Don’t let the time it takes to make this Madras Lentils recipe put you off. Out of the two hours total, only about 20 minutes is active time. There’s lots of simmering action, so feel free to go about your day while your house starts to smell completely amazing.

I decided to use a mixture of adzuki and mung beans because they perfectly replicate the texture of this dish. If you have a hard time finding adzuki beans, use regular small red beans. The adzuki beans are really tasty; you can find them here on Amazon. On the other hand, mung beans are green and very round. When cooked, they retain their shape and toothiness, so they add lots of great texture.

Reasons to Love Madras Lentils

  • Madras Lentils offer a tantalizing blend of spices that awaken taste buds with every bite.
  • It’s a vegetarian delight perfect for vegetarians. Plus, Madras Lentils are also protein-packed and satisfying.
  • A taste of India’s vibrant cuisine in the comfort of your home.
  • Serve them with rice, naan, or as a side, making them a versatile meal for all occasions.

Recipe Ingredients

Ingredients for Madras lentils on a table.
  • Mung Beans: Slightly sweet, they add a pleasant contrast to the savory spices.
  • Adzuki Beans: Earthy and nutty, they provide a hearty base and absorb the flavors of the sauce.
  • Vegetable Broth: Infuses depth that enriches the overall taste.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Offers richness and a silky texture to the dish.
  • Diced Yellow Onion: The sweetness and aroma of onions enhance the flavor profile of Madras Lentils.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations

  • Different Beans/Lentils: You can certainly experiment with different types of beans or lentils in this dish. Chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, or even a mixture of different lentils can all work well.
  • Protein Addition: If you’re not following a vegetarian or vegan diet, you can add cooked chicken, lamb, or shrimp to the dish for added protein.
  • Vegetable Add-Ins: Feel free to add more vegetables like red bell pepper, tomatoes, zucchini, or even spinach for a nutritional boost.
  • Grain Substitutes: Instead of serving with rice or naan, try serving the Madras Lentils over quinoa, bulgur wheat, or even cauliflower rice for a low-carb alternative.
  • Spicier Variation: Adjust the red pepper flake spices based on your personal preference.
Madras lentils in a pot.

How to Make Madras Lentils

Step #1: Heat the olive oil in a 3-quart or larger pot set over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeno; sauté until the onion begins to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Onion and jalapeño in a large pot.

Step #2: Add the minced garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, red pepper flakes, and ground ginger. Stir well to coat the vegetables in spices. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.

Minced garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, red pepper flakes, and ground ginger added to the pot.

Step #3: Add the soaked adzuki beans along with the vegetable broth and tomato sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 45 minutes.

Vegetable broth and tomato mixture.

Step #4: Add the mung beans to the pot and allow them to cook for another 45 minutes.

Step #5: Stir in the half-and-half, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.

Madras Lentils being stirred with a wooden spoon in a pot.

Step #6: Optionally garnish with cilantro. Serve this hearty soup with rice and/or Naan flatbreads.

Madras lentils in a bowl, garnished with cilantro.

Expert Tips

  • Balanced Spices: The essence of this recipe is in the balanced use of spices. While you can adjust the spice levels according to your preference, try not to omit any of them as each brings a unique flavor to the dish.
  • Freshness Matters: Using fresh ingredients, especially when it comes to spices and herbs, can make a big difference in the taste of your Madras Lentils. Consider grinding your own spices if possible, or ensure that your pre-ground spices are not too old.
  • Slow Cooking: The flavors in this dish benefit from slow cooking, allowing all the ingredients to meld together. Don’t rush the cooking process.
  • Adjust Consistency: You can adjust the consistency of the dish as per your preference. If you like a thicker consistency, mash some of the cooked beans with a spoon or a potato masher before adding the mung beans.
  • Garnishing: Adding fresh cilantro before serving can add a fresh burst of flavor. If you’re not a fan of cilantro, you can use parsley or even mint.
Two servings of Madras lentils garnished with cilantro.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the recipe called Madras Lentils without any lentils?

I found that using a mix of adzuki and mung beans gave the best texture and taste for this recipe, which mirrors my favorite Tasty Bite Madras Lentils.

Why do we need to soak the adzuki beans overnight?

Soaking the adzuki beans overnight helps to reduce the cooking time.

What can I use instead of red wine vinegar?

You can substitute red wine vinegar with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.

Can I make this recipe in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can make this in a slow cooker. However, the sautéing steps should be done on the stovetop before transferring everything to the slow cooker.

Why do I add the mung beans halfway through the cooking process?

Mung beans cook faster than adzuki beans, so they’re added later to prevent them from becoming too mushy.

Two bowls of Madras lentils; one bowl is served with rice.

Storage Info

To store Madras Lentils, allow them to cool to room temperature, then transfer them into airtight containers. When stored properly in the refrigerator, Madras Lentils can stay good for up to 3-4 days. For longer storage, you can freeze them in airtight freezer-safe containers or resealable bags for about 2-3 months. To reheat, simply thaw frozen Madras Lentils in the refrigerator overnight and then gently heat them on the stove over medium-low heat. Add a splash of water to prevent sticking. Occasionally stir until they heat through, maintaining their flavors and consistency.

Did you try this recipe? Leave a ⭐️ rating below and share it on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest!

Madras lentils served in a bowl.

Madras Lentils Recipe

This Madras Lentils recipe is so good you will want to whip up a big pot and stock your freezer with a week's worth of lunches!
4.5 from 378 votes
Pin Rate
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 9 Servings
Calories: 230kcal
Author: Linda
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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 jalapeno - seeded, stemmed, and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic - minced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup dry adzuki beans - soaked overnight
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/3 cup mung beans
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half*
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional garnish with cilantro
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Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a 3-quart or larger pot set over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeno; sauté until the onion begins to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the minced garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, red pepper flakes, and ground ginger. Stir well to coat the vegetables in spices. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.
  • Add the soaked adzuki beans along with the vegetable broth and tomato sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 45 minutes.
  • Add the mung beans to the pot and allow them to cook for another 45 minutes.
  • Stir in the half-and-half, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.
  • Optionally garnish with cilantro. Serve this hearty soup with rice and/or Naan flatbreads.

VIDEO

NOTES

*Substitute coconut milk for vegan.
Storage Info:
To store Madras Lentils, allow them to cool to room temperature, then transfer them into airtight containers. When stored properly in the refrigerator, Madras Lentils can stay good for up to 3-4 days. For longer storage, you can freeze them in airtight freezer-safe containers or resealable bags for about 2-3 months. To reheat, simply thaw frozen Madras Lentils in the refrigerator overnight and then gently heat them on the stove over medium-low heat. Add a splash of water to prevent sticking. Occasionally stir until they heat through, maintaining their flavors and consistency.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 230kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 317mg | Potassium: 708mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 240IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 3mg

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About the Author

Linda

Hi, I'm Linda! Welcome to The Wanderlust Kitchen, where I share recipes and travel adventures from all around the world. Here you'll find a world of recipes you can have confidence in. These recipes celebrate authentic food heritage as well as modern techniques and ingredients. Be adventurous and try a new recipe and travel somewhere you have never been before.  Bon Appétit! Bon Voyage!  

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Comments:

  1. 5 stars
    I really get irritated with people who make a bunch of changes to a recipe then give it only 2-3 stars because “it just didn’t taste good…” Argh! I had to make changes to this recipe for reasons explained below, but am giving it FIVE REALLY BIG STARS because it’s so versatile! Also, please note that I decided to make this at 5:00pm, so used what I had on hand…

    Background: I will be 80 on my next birthday and have been dealing with RA for over 50 years, so have Halloween hands; I don’t chop veggies unless absolutely necessary. I’m married to a Dutchman with a healthy dose of Indonesian who was a child POW during WWII; he’s a confirmed carnivore as a result – but one who can no longer eat the spicy Indonesian food he used to love. (FYI, we met in the Peace Corps, hence our comfort with compromises and versatile recipes.) So, here is my compromise, and given the first ingredient, these are obviously no longer “Madras” Lentils – or even, come to think of it, “Lentils”… 🙂

    * 1 lb ground beef
    * 1 container Trader Joe’s mirepoix – chopped onions, celery and carrots. (So I don’t have to – and a little celery and carrots never hurt.)
    * NO jalapeños or red pepper flakes. (See “husband” above. I add on the side for me.)
    * All the spices except fenugreek, which I didn’t have.
    * 1 can Red Gold stewed tomatoes. (No tomato sauce or paste in the pantry.)
    * 1 can cannellini beans. (Ditto re adzuki and mung beans in pantry.)
    * Vinegar, sugar, S&P as in recipe.
    * No H&H because I was out, but will get some and add to leftovers tomorrow.

    We really enjoy this! AND, the last time I made it, I added a pouch of the Tasty Bite originals to stretch the yield a bit. Now THAT is gilding the lily!

    1. PS – I looking forward to getting ALL of the ingredients and making the real version. Will first send my husband out of town for a week, of course…

    2. Hi Kelly, I so love you sharing your background, views and the love for this recipe with all your changes! This comment made my day! – Linda

      1. 5 stars
        Thanks, Linda! I had fun writing it. These quantities – and yes, I added a pkg of Tasty Bites again – make about 5-6 servings or 3 nights’ of dinners, depending on how hungry we are. I’m looking forward to trying some of your other recipes. Have you tried anything from Tunisia, our Peace Corps country, or from Algeria, where we also lived?

        BTW, I bought fenugreek. I remember the smell from the spice souks in Tunis.

      2. Hi Kelly, I’m not sure I have tried anything specifically from Tunisia or Algeria, but we do have 3 North Africa recipes with harissa in them. Some friends served us some Egyptian Foul a few weeks ago and it was so good! Do you have some favorite dishes from Tunisia and Algeria you would recommend?

  2. Has anyone tried this in the instapot? If so, how long did you cook them for? Also, did you still soak beans ahead of time? I would love the instapot recipe.

    1. I pre soaked the adzuki in the IP for 6 minutes on high. I then follow the recipe using the saute setting. If it gets too hot i turn it down to low saute. I add the broth, beans etc then put in on saute until it boils then turn to low saute, checking to make sure its ok.
      I have found that turning saute on high before choosing slow cook works best.
      After adding the moong beans I kept an eye on it and stirred occasionally. Since I have only made it once I’ll be experimenting until I can just let it cook under pressure. It will be a considerably shorter cook time for sure. If we look at how long it takes to cook beans thoroughly that will helpful and I’d adjust accordingly.
      I know this isn’t exactly what you are looking for but it’s a step. Good luck!!!!

      I thought the flavor was really wonderful

  3. I used your recipe. After reading the above comments I soaked both adzuki and mung beans. Neither one cooked in the amout of time specified. So I put the whole recipe in the crockpot and cooked until the mountains flattened out and the plains rose to the sky and they were still not soft. Therefore, I conclude I got old beans. In checking the label I found these beans were from China which does not have good food laws. Perhaps if I had gotten Japanese they would have been a better product.

    Thanks for the recipe. I do love those Tasty Bites.

  4. I’m trying this for the first time today. Like many others, the mung beans are not softening up. It’s still cooking as I write this (perhaps an extra hour so far), but they still are done.

    It also tastes rather salty. Did anyone else find that to be the case? As of this point, I’m thinking I’ll try it again but with both beans soaked and a lot less salt.

  5. This recipe made me a hero for my daughter who ate only Taste Bite Madras lentils for lunch every school day for a YEAR!!! Thank you!! The spices are perfect.