Creamy Indian Lentils

Lentil Dal 3

When it comes to weeknight meals, I’d much rather throw something in the crockpot in the morning to cook for 8 hours while I work than stand near the stove for 2 hours at a time.  Especially if I’m going to get back on a regular workout schedule, rather just fitting it in on light work days…not exactly conducive to health or developing good habits.

One of the items on my 101 in 1001 list is to practice Pilates twice a week for four months.  I fell out of practice over the holidays, and lost any progress I may have made in my first few lessons back.  But twice a week for four months means practicing at least 36 times before May 18.  Which means that on 36 days, we’ll be depending on my preplanning super star skills!  I’m going to be relying on crockpot meals or quick dinners so that I have time to work, workout and, you know, relax on the occasional evening.

And when the end result is creamy, spicy lentils, that’s even better.  To make this a full meal, I roasted some cauliflower and baked up some naan in the last half hour, after adding the butter and milk.

Lentil Dal 2

Creamy Indian Lentils

Prep Time: 1 minute

Cook Time: 8 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Serve with naan and roasted cauliflower. Adapted for the slow cooker from Saveur's The New Comfort Food


  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2" piece ginger, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 6 1/4 cups water
  • 2 cups black lentils
  • 1/2 cup dried kidney beans
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup light cream


  1. In a large saucepan over low heat, toss the onions with 2 teaspoons of canola oil. Cook, stirring regularly, until the onions turn brown and caramelize, about 20 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, puree the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, chili powder and 1/4 cup water to create a paste.
  3. Stir the lentils, beans and remaining oil in the bowl of a crockpot to coat the legumes.
  4. Add the spice paste, onions, tomato sauce, garam masala and paprika to the crockpot. Top with the rest of the water and stir well.
  5. Cook on Low for 8-10 hours.
  6. Thirty minutes before serving, stir in the butter and milk.
  7. Serve drizzled with a bit of light cream.

Make Ahead and Storage

To save time: caramelize the onions and create the spice paste up to four days in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.



  1. says

    This sounds delicious and fills two needs I’ve been meaning to recently: 1) a good lentil recipe and 2) yummy crock pot recipes.

    Do you think green (or maybe they’re brown) lentils would work as well? I have a bag in my cabinet that I’ve been wanting to use…

    • Julie says

      I think brown would definitely work and green would most likely work (I’ve never cooked with them, so I can’t say for sure)