Toasted Coconut Lentils

March 11, 2017

DSC_0654Because I get excited about odd things, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about this salty, nutty mixture of coconut, crunchy spices, little nuggets of garlic and strands of spicy ginger. Simple ways to create comfort food with that perfect balance of salt and spice and nutty-hug-yourself goodness. It’s one of my favorite ways to cook.

A popular way to flavor Indian food is through a tadka – or tempered spices. You cook whole spices in oil so that their full flavor is released. The whole spices – oil and all – are added to a dish either at the beginning or at the end to finish. The effect is similar to a Japanese Furikake or Middle Eastern Dukkah.

I added this Toasted Coconut Tadka to split yellow lentils but you can toss it in with any other lentil type or even green beans.

Tiny tufts of toasted coconut. Velvety warm lentils with just a bit of a bite. Whole crunchy spices. Little nuggets of garlic. Spicy strands of ginger

Toasted Coconut Lentils


  • Coconut oil or clarified butter or other high heat cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup frozen or dried shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 dried red chilies
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 quarter sized coins ginger, cut into long thin strips
  • Curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 cup lentils (red lentils or yellow split peas)*
  • *Split peas are best if soaked the night beforehand and then pressure cooked


  1. Cook the lentils.
  2. Toast the coconut until golden in a dry skillet. Transfer to a boil.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a skillet. Add the spices, ginger and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until garlic is toasted and spices are fragrant.
  4. Stir the cooked spices and coconut flakes into the lentils.
  5. Add salt.
  6. Serve warm with basmati rice.


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