Slightly sweet Bengal gram lentil curry

Slightly sweet Bengal gram lentil curry

Indian Food Made Easy
Vanessa Courtier

This popular Bengali dish is simple food and subtly spiced, as is most Bengali food. The lentils are meant to be thick, sweet and savoury and usually have raisins and coconut slivers to garnish, but I’ve omitted the raisins, simply because I’m not keen on fruit in curries. It is usually made with fresh coconut, but here I have changed it to dried, just because it is easier. It is normally eaten with the traditional luchi, a delicious deep-fried bread, but when I can’t face the heaviness, naan or even a simple rice dish also goes really well with it.


Quantity Ingredient
250g bengal gram, well washed
2 bay leaves
1.2 litres water
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 heaped teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
salt, to taste
2-3 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons mustard oil, unsalted butter or ghee
5 green cardamom pods
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
5 cloves
5cm shard of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1-2 dried red chillies
3 tablespoons flaked or desiccated coconut
or 1/4 small fresh coconut, flesh cut into small dice


  1. Place the lentils, bay leaves, water and turmeric in a pan, bring to a boil and then simmer, covered for around 50–60 minutes or until soft. Add extra water, if necessary.
  2. Stir in the coriander and garam masala, salt and sugar to taste. Cook until the lentils are completely soft and start to break up – I have an Indian wooden whisk that is ideal for this, but try anything that helps to break them up a little. You should be left with a thick lentily mass but with the actual lentils still discernible.
  3. To serve, heat the oil or butter in a small pan (if using mustard oil, heat until smoking then cool and reheat) and fry the cardamom pods, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, mustard seeds and chillies for 30 seconds. Add the coconut and cook until it turns golden, then pour the mixture over the lentils. Stir in or leave to stir at the table.
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