Recipe: Spiced Lentils with Egg (2024)

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Faith Durand

Faith DurandSVP of Content

Faith is the SVP of Content at Apartment Therapy Media and former Editor-in-Chief of The Kitchn. She is the author of three cookbooks, including the James Beard Award-winning The Kitchn Cookbook. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and two daughters.


updated May 3, 2019

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Recipe: Spiced Lentils with Egg (1)


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Recipe: Spiced Lentils with Egg (2)

When I was in my 20s I decided to live alone, finally, after sharing homes and apartments with an ever-changing stream of roommates. That first year in my solo apartment was the genesis of my desire to learn how to cook well. I knew how to follow a recipe, but I realized there’s so much more to becoming a cook at ease in the kitchen. I remember staring at a pile of brown and wilted vegetables in my fridge and thinking how recipes are nothing more than the gleaming tip of the iceberg, shiny and alluring, but not signaling the many demands they make on a cook: how to shop, how to plan, how to make the most of the ingredients in your fridge and pantry every single day.

There were a few recipes that got me through those early days of starting to acquire the 95 percent of kitchen knowledge that isn’t found in recipes. No matter how empty my fridge, I always had eggs, lentils, and spices, and maybe you do too. If so, this is the simplest weeknight meal — homey and comforting.

I ate this many, many times in my solo apartment days (most memorably, I had a dish slowly over-baking in the oven while on the phone with my now-husband, who had finally called to ask me out).

It’s a simple and forgiving dish, made with lentils cooked with shallot, garlic, and toasty Indian spices. I like to use a mix of red lentils and yellow split peas. The red lentils cook quickly into a mash of comfort food, but the split peas stay a little more toothsome, adding a nice balance of texture to the dish.

The best thing, though, is that you can make the lentil mix ahead and refrigerate or even freeze it. Then it’s ready and waiting for you to plop an egg on top and bake until it’s a little crisp on top, with warm soft lentils beneath, and a gooey egg for you to drag your fork through.

It’s a dish for one, two, or more. I’ve skipped the spices, and the cilantro, at times, substituted more garlic or a handful of fresh rosemary or parsley. You could add sun-dried tomatoes or a splash of coconut milk. Think of it as your own vessel for using up what’s in your own pantry and stretching your wings as a cook.

As long as you have lentils and eggs, it will fill you up and make you feel right at home in your kitchen, as it did for me.


Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1 cup

    red lentils

  • 1 cup

    yellow split peas

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 2

    large shallots or 4 small shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)

  • 2 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 2 teaspoons

    garam masala

  • 4 cups

    low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 cup

    finely chopped cilantro leaves, from one small bunch

  • 4

    large eggs


  1. Rinse the lentils and split peas thoroughly under running water. Drain and set aside.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the garlic and shallots are golden and fragrant. Add the lentils and split peas and stir in the garam masala. Stir the pot thoroughly to make sure the garam masala and shallots are fully distributed in the lentils.

  3. Add the broth (or 4 cups of water) and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cover the pan. Cook for 30 to 35 minutes or until the yellow split peas are just tender. (The red lentils are smaller and will cook faster; the yellow lentils will stay distinct and al dente while the red lentils will cook down into a pleasantly rustic mush.) Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the cilantro.

  4. At this point the lentils can be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen in portions for up to 3 months (thaw in the fridge overnight before using).

  5. To serve: Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease individual ramekins or small ovenproof baking dishes. Mound about 1 cup lentils in each then make a deep hollow in the center and crack in an egg. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the egg.

  6. Bake for 18 to 25 minutes, or until white is set and yolk is cooked to your liking. Serve immediately with a green salad.

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Recipe: Spiced Lentils with Egg (2024)


What makes lentils taste better? ›

Think more like you're cooking pasta- you just need significantly more water than lentils. You can also use broth instead of adding an extra layer of flavor. I like adding a bay leaf, an onion cut in half, and a clove of garlic to add flavor to the lentils.

What is the best way to eat lentils? ›

Lentils are great in soups, as an addition to salads, and as a vegetarian protein source in recipes traditionally made with meat.

How do you know if lentils are fully cooked? ›

The best way to tell if lentils are cooked is to try to mash one with a fork. If it's easy to mash it, it's fully cooked. If it doesn't give or just breakfast, you may need to simmer if for a few extra minutes. Lentils are an economical and speedy way to add iron and heart-healthy vegan protein to your diet.

How long does it take to cook lentils? ›

Bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat and simmer until they are tender. For whole lentils, cook time is typically 15-20 minutes. For split red lentils, cook time is typically only about 5-7 minutes. Be sure to season with salt after cooking – if salt is added before, the lentils will become tough.

What are the most flavorful lentils? ›

Black Beluga lentils have the most flavor, adding a rich, earthy taste and a firm texture that holds up well during cooking. Black lentils will be ready in 20–25 minutes; however, they will fall apart like their brown, green, and red partners once you cook them for too long.

Why do I feel so good after eating lentils? ›

Lentils are rich in fibre, folate and potassium making them a great choice for the heart and for managing blood pressure and cholesterol. They are also a source of energising iron and vitamin B1 which helps maintain a steady heartbeat.

What pairs well with lentils? ›

If you have a few root vegetables hanging out in your fridge, those are also great with lentils, like in this warm lentil and root vegetable salad with parsnips and carrots. Lentils are particularly nice with cheese, as in this grilled halloumi and lentil salad.

Should you rinse lentils before cooking? ›

Lentils do not require it but can be soaked in order to reduce cooking time by about half. Before cooking, rinse lentils in cold water, pick over to remove debris or shrivelled lentils, then drain.

How many times a week should you eat lentils? ›

Studies suggest that eating beans and lentils at least four times per week helps lower blood pressure as well as the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer. Legumes are sold dried in packages and already cooked in cans.

Do you cook lentils covered or uncovered? ›

Cook your lentils uncovered on low heat for 20-45 minutes (based on the variety) to plump them up while avoiding split skins and mushy results. Add more liquid as needed until the lentils are done. A good ratio to start with is 1 cup of lentils to 2½ cups of liquid.

Can lentils be overcooked? ›

Bring the water to a boil and keep the heat on medium-high. Steam the lentils for 12-15 minutes until they are tender (you should be able to squish a cooked lentil between your fingers). Make sure not to overcook. Your lentils will turn mushy if overcooked, so keep an eye on the timer.

Is it OK to eat slightly undercooked lentils? ›

Lentils should always be consumed well-cooked as when raw or undercooked they can cause serious health problems, food poisoning and, in very extreme cases, even death. It's all because they contain natural compounds called lectins which are toxic but fortunately, cooking destroys them!

How much does 1 cup of lentils make? ›

As a general rule, one cup of dried lentils yields two to two-and-a-half cups of cooked lentils. Because of their rather delicate, earthy flavor, lentils work well in a variety of dishes and in almost any type of cuisine. The best time to add flavor to lentils is during the cooking process.

What happens if you don't soak lentils before cooking? ›

Here's why soaking lentils is important

Fact 1: Soaking lentils improves digestion and nutrition absorption as it can neutralise lectins and phytates present that may cause gas and bloating. Fact 2: Soaking lentils also reduces its cooking time. It also brings prana (life) into the legume.

Should all water be absorbed when cooking lentils? ›

Lentils aren't rice—they don't need to absorb every last drop of cooking liquid. They're more like pasta: best cooked in an abundance of water or stock. Bring your liquid up to a boil, add your lentils, then turn down your heat to a simmer for at least 25-30 minutes.

How do you fix bland lentils? ›

Follow this tip: Add a few cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, a spring of rosemary, half of an onion, or a combination of these aromatics to the cooking water or stock to help flavor the lentils.

What can I add to lentils to reduce gas? ›

Cumin seeds or ground cumin helps with digestion and is perfect in a soup, curry or dal (lentil dish). Carom seeds, fennel seeds, turmeric and peppermint are other great digestive aids. Cooking beans with a large strip of dried kombu, a Japanese dried kelp, may minimise their gas-producing properties too.

How do you make lentils easier on your stomach? ›

Tips to Make Beans and Lentils Less Gassy:
  1. Rinse before cooking. Rinsing canned beans and lentils helps reduce the amount of those indigestible carbohydrates, which are released into the water. ...
  2. Even better, soak them overnight. ...
  3. Introduce them slowly. ...
  4. Call in the reinforcements.
Dec 11, 2017

Why are my lentils bland? ›

The simple answer: you cooked them too long. Lentils are actually quite difficult to get right.

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