Hearty simmered curried lentils mixed with bacon and cabbage browned in the bacon drippings equals a dish everyone will love. Perfect served with garlic naan and a salad.
I think I can probably say with certainty that I never ate lentils as a kid. I’m sure I didn’t even know what they were (and beans? I only remember eating them as sugar-laden baked beans!).
As I started trying more international foods as an adult, I came across varieties of Indian Dal made with red or brown lentils and salads made with French green lentils. They were always good, no matter what the preparation, even though I leaned towards the spicy end of the scale.
Little did I know what nutritional powerhouses lentils were then – I guess that’s the best way to discover something, isn’t it?
So of course I decided to make them a part of my cooking, since they were good tasting and good for you – and they cooked fairly quickly without needing to be soaked as many beans do. Well, and pretty economical, too, especially as a protein source.
As a result, we eat the best sausage and lentil stew ever often at our house, and eat fast and easy curried red lentil soup a bit less – but only because it’s harder to find red lentils and they’re a bit more expensive.
Curried Lentils with Bacon & Browned Cabbage
I’ve been wanting to make a curried lentil dish for awhile – one that had added turmeric (because you know I pretty much think it’s a wonder, right?) and something a bit different, too…like bacon!
I’m sure I don’t need to repeat the saying about bacon we all know and love, but even Indian curry-flavored dishes can benefit from a bit of bacon, don’t you think?
And since we’re cooking up a few slices of bacon, why not brown things like onions, garlic, and cabbage in the pan afterwards, scraping up all the browned bits? Seriously, yum.
This dish turned out so amazing! My whole family was impressed that such a humble looking dish could taste so great.
And if you wanted to leave out the bacon and make this a vegetarian curry, there is enough flavor from everything else to do it well. Just brown the cabbage in butter or ghee and proceed with the recipe.
I used a hot curry in addition to red pepper flakes – we like things spicy – so topping it all with fresh chopped tomatoes added that nice cool/hot aspect to the dish that many Indian foods have. Of course yogurt is the traditional accompaniment, and you could certainly add that as a side to the dish, too.
Served with a flatbread and a green salad, you’ve got a meal – though if you’re like my family, having a couple of grilled chicken thighs available adds lots of mom-points, ha!
Did you grow up with lentils? Do you cook with them now?
Curried Lentils with Bacon & Browned Cabbage (Slow Cook or Stove Top)
- 1-1/4 cup brown lentils rinsed and picked over as needed
- 4 cups water or chicken broth
- 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons curry powder use smaller amount with a hot curry, larger amount if mild
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoon salt less if using a salted chicken broth instead of water
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste
Bacon Browned Cabbage:
- 4 pieces bacon*
- 1 onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups roughly chopped cabbage (about 1/4 large head)
- 1 or 2 tomatoes diced
- Chopped parsley or chives for garnish optional
- Slow Cooker Method: add all lentil ingredients to the bowl of a slow cooker, stirring to mix. Cook on Low for 4 hours or High for 2 hours until most of the liquid evaporates.
- Oven Top Method: add all ingredients to a large stockpot, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on medium-low heat, covered, for 40-50 minutes, until lentils are done.
- In a large skillet cook bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels, crumble and set aside.
- Saute chopped onion in bacon grease over medium heat 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cabbage. Raise heat to medium-high and cook 3-5 minutes to brown cabbage.
- Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until cabbage is tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a couple tablespoons of water towards the end of cooking to deglaze the pan.
- Scrape the vegetables into the lentil pot and stir well to combine. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, as desired.
- Serve topped with chopped tomatoes, crumbled bacon and optional chives or parsley for garnish.