This spiced red lentil and cauliflower stew is a 30 minute meal that's nourishing and warming, perfect for a busy weeknight when you want to eat well but still feel good.
This recipe is nice and easy. Great for an early week dinner when you're still easing into the busyness of the work week and don't have the bandwidth for more than the essentials.
It's still comfort eating for sure, with bright spicy notes and a creamy texture. I don't think I can do non-comfort food, especially not on a Monday or Tuesday evening.
But this stew is kept light on calories, ingredients and time commitment so you can eat and enjoy the free time you just won back. Who doesn't love that?
- Cauliflower: The cauliflower florets are broken up into large and small pieces which gives the stew a nice texture and mouthfeel.
- Red lentils: Red lentils bulk up the stew and add protein and fiber.
- Tomato puree and tomato paste: Tomato brings sweetness and depth from the umami. This is especially so for tomato paste, which is like concentrated umami.
- Aromatics (red onion, garlic, ginger and green chili): These ingredients come together to bring a ton of flavor and depth to the dish. Let them brown a bit to deepen the flavor for very little extra time.
- Vegetable oil or clarified butter: The oil is for browning the aromatics to bring in a lot of depth of flavor.
- Seasoning (salt, garam masala, brown sugar): The seasonings are simple but well-balanced for the dish. You can also add more seasoning if you like for example curry powder or cumin seeds would be great additions.
- Heavy cream: The heavy cream gives this dish a bit of a butter chicken vibe. It makes it creamy and a bit richer. I just used conventional dairy cream but you can substitute plant cream like oat cream or even a can of coconut milk to replace some of the water.
- Fresh cilantro: Cilantro brings a bright, peppery top note that elevates the other flavors.
A large pot with a lid is all you need. I used my Le Creuset braiser which is pictured and is 3.3 liter / 3.5 quart. You will need a pot at least that large.
This red lentil and cauliflower stew comes together with very little effort.
Prepare the aromatics by finely dicing the red onion, slicing the chili, and grating or mashing the ginger and garlic.
For the cauliflower I recommend cutting out the core and then breaking up the florets by hand. Breaking them into different sized pieces gives the dish more textural nuance.
Add all the aromatics to the skillet with oil over high heat and sauté until aromatic and lightly browned.
Then you simply put in the tomato puree, tomato paste, lentils, garam masala, salt and sugar along with the broken up cauliflower florets.
Give it a stir then cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring every so often so it doesn't stick.
When the cauliflower is fork tender and the lentils are soft it's ready for show time.
Swirl in the heavy cream and add the fresh chopped cilantro. Mix and it's ready to serve. So easy!
This red lentil and cauliflower stew is really nice served with rice or if you're feeling adventurous you can whip up some homemade garlic butter naan to go with it.
Looking for more mealtime inspiration? Maybe you'll enjoy one of these:
30-Minute Spiced Red Lentil & Cauliflower Stew
- large pot with lid
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 cup red lentils
- 400 grams tomato puree 15oz
- 500 ml water 2 cups, or enough to just cover
- 0.5 cup red onions finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced or mashed
- 2 teaspoon ginger minced, grated or mashed
- 1 green chili or more to taste, finely diced
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or clarified butter
- 1.5 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 0.5 cup heavy cream
- 0.5 cup chopped cilantro optional garnish
- Cut the core out of the cauliflower and break up the florets into large and smaller pieces.
- Heat the oil over high and add the diced shallot, garlic, ginger and green chili. Sauté 3-4 minutes until aromatic and lightly browned.
- Add the tomato puree, tomato paste, lentils, salt, brown sugar, garam masala and cauliflower. Stir to just combine then cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring every so often so make sure it doesn't stick.
- Remove from heat and stir in the chopped fresh cilantro and heavy cream.
- Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference.
- Serve hot over rice or with naan.