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  • Christian Ostbo

Coconut Curry Red Lentil Stew with Cilantro Lime Chutney

This easy to make curry featuring red lentils is a fantastic source of fiber, making this hearty stew a heart-healthy go-to. The dish is completely vegan if you use coconut oil.


For the stew:

1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee

1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne

1 whole cinnamon stick

2 teaspoons sea salt

One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices

Two 13.5-ounce cans unsweetened full-fat coconut milk

4 cups vegetable broth

1 1⁄2 cups red lentils

1 large bunch spinach, de-stemmed and roughly chopped (about 3 cups)

For the Cilantro Lime Chutney:

1 bunch cilantro

4 scallions

Juice of 1 lime

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


1. Melt the coconut oil or ghee in a Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender and translucent.

2. Add the garlic, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, cardamom, cayenne, cinnamon stick, and salt; sauté for 30 seconds or until the spices bloom and become fragrant.

3. Add the tomatoes and their juices, coconut milk, broth and lentils to the Dutch oven, and stir until combined. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender and cooked through. Be mindful of the cinnamon stick in the stew and move aside or discard before serving.

Meanwhile, make the Cilantro Lime Chutney:

1. In a small food processor or blender, blend the cilantro, scallions, lime juice and sea salt until finely chopped but not fully puréed (I prefer mine a little chunky). With the food processor on, drizzle in the olive oil slowly and blend until the mixture has a pesto-like consistency.

2. Pour into a smaller serving bowl or jar and season to taste with additional salt if needed. Set aside.

3. Add a small handful of chopped spinach to the bottom of every empty soup bowl used for serving. Ladle the stew into the bowl(s) on top of the spinach; the residual heat of the stew will soften the spinach. If you prefer, you can mix the spinach into the stew and cook it down for 1-2 minutes before ladling into bowls.

4. Top each bowl with a spoonful of Cilantro Lime Chutney and serve warm.


You may want to serve this dish with your favorite Naan or Pita Bread. They’re perfect for mopping up curries. (See garlic naan bread recipe below.)

Tips for storing:

To keep leftovers for more than a few days, freeze the stew in 1-quart glass jars with lid.

Homemade Garlic Naan Bread

Warning: this pillowy-soft naan bread is addictive and super easy to make, but don’t worry, because it’s a naan issue :)


For Naan Bread:

1/4 cup warm water

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast or instant (rapid rise)

3/4 cup warm milk

3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or natural plain yogurt

1/4 cup vegetable oil plus 2 tablespoons extra for cooking

2 cloves garlic minced

4 cups plain flour plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

For Garlic Butter:

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon fresh chopped cilantro or parsley


For Naan Bread:

1. In a large bowl combine water, sugar and yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes or until the mixture begins to bubble on top.

2. Add in milk, yogurt, oil, minced garlic, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until the dough comes together with your hands.

3. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Use floured hands to knead the dough until smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Lightly grease the same mixing bowl with a small spray of non-aerosol healthy cooking oil. Transfer dough to bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature for about an hour until doubled in size.

5. When ready to cook, divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Roll into balls, then use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into a large oval, about 6-inches long and 1/8-inch thick. Repeat with remaining dough.

6. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Grease skillet with 1/2 teaspoon of oil.

7. Place one piece of the naan on the oiled hot skillet and cook until bubbles form on top, about 1-2 minutes. While cooking, brush the top with a little oil.

8. Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until large golden spots appear on the bottom.

9. Remove from the skillet and wrap in a clean kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining naan (keep them wrapped in a towel while you work).

For Garlic Butter:

1. Combine melted butter and minced garlic together in a bowl. Brush each piece of naan with garlic butter and top with fresh herb of your choice.

Tips for storing:

If you plan on storing your naan breads, do not brush them with garlic butter. When cooked, allow naan to completely cool to room temperature to prevent condensation. Transfer naan to Ziplock bag or storage container with tight fitting lid and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in refrigerator for up to 5 days. When ready to eat, heat naan up in a pan over low-medium heat, or in the microwave for 10 seconds. Brush with garlic butter and enjoy! Likewise, you may freeze and store unbuttered naan for up to 2 months. Frozen naan will thaw quickly at room temperature. Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet over low-medium heat, then brush with garlic butter.

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