These spicy & flavourful Indian style Keema Lentils are ridiculously easy to make. Cook in a pan for a speedy dinner or use a slow cooker for a more leisurely approach.
It’s no secret that I love spicy food and in my pre-vegan days I used to love to order the Keema dishes from our local Indian restaurant. As Keema literally means ‘minced or ground meat’, it’s not a particularly vegan friendly dish and it’s pretty unlikely that you will find a meat-free version in any restaurant.
Green lentils are a very good meat substitute as you will know if you have tried my Lentil Shepherd’s Pie or Vegan Meatloaf. It was these two dishes that gave me the inspiration to create my own take on a Keema recipe.
In this recipe, green lentils are cooked with a mixture of spices, onions, lots of garlic and broth. The liquid mostly evaporates off during cooking which concentrates the flavours beautifully. The resulting Keema Lentils are absolutely packed with flavour and have a lovely hit of fiery chili.
My Keema Lentils can be cooked in a pan on the hob or in a slow cooker. You can choose whichever method suits your lifestyle the best. The results are almost identical except that in the slow cooker it is a little harder to evaporate the liquid off completely so you might end up with lentils that are a little more moist than they would be if cooked in a pan. I use both methods regularly and which I choose comes down to how busy my day is looking and how late I have to work.
This recipe serves four hungry people and any leftovers will keep well for up to five days in the fridge. You will find that the flavours just keep on developing and it gets better and better the longer it sits. It also freezes very well. The leftovers can be served with more rice and raita, or they are great served with some flat bread or naan bread for a quick and easy lunch. Cauliflower rice is also great to serve with this dish is you are trying to limit your carbs.
I love my food extra hot and spicy so I topped my Keema Lentils with a sprinkling of raw sliced chillies. They make it look really pretty when serving but some fresh cilantro leaves also add a pop of colour if you don’t want to add any extra heat.
I really hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have. If you make it please hit the yellow stars to rate it and leave me some feedback below. You can also tag me @avirtualvegan on Instagram or send me a picture. I love to see your versions of my recipes!
For the Keema Lentils
- 1 large onion , chopped finely
- 3 tablespoons fresh ginger , grated
- 6 cloves garlic , chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons garam masala - you can use curry powder instead if that's all you have
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 3 cups cooked green lentils (see recipe note if you wish to use dried green lentils)
- 360mls | 1.5 cup good vegetable or mushroom broth/stock
- 2 tablespoons Tamari (can be subbed for soy sauce)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Cilantro for sprinkling (optional)
- Saute the onion in a pan over a medium heat until translucent. I just used a dry pan but you could use a drop of water or oil of choice,
- Once translucent add the ginger and garlic and carry on cooking for about two minutes stirring occasionally.
- Add the spices and chili flakes and cook for about a minute, stirring them continuously to stop them sticking.
- Add the lentils, broth, Tamari and seasoning.
- Stir well and cook uncovered until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 10 - 15 minutes). Stir every so often to insure they don't stick.
- Serve with rice and raita and a scattering of cilantro.
Slow cooker method
- Put all of the ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4 - 5 hours or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- When you start cooking your rice take the lid off the slow cooker to let some of the liquid evaporate.
For the Raita
- Put the soaked and drained cashews into a blender. Add the milk, vinegar and spices and blend until completely smooth.
- Pour into a bowl and stir through the diced cucumber and herbs. Season with salt to taste.
It is possible to cook this recipe with dried green lentils. Use 1.5 slightly heaped cups of dried lentils and increase the broth to 4 cups. If cooking in a pan on the hob the cooking time will increase by about 25 mins. If cooking in the slow cooker it will take around the same time, 4 - 5 hours or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.