Warm Lentil Salad with Coconut and Tomato


Indian Home Cooking

Published by Clarkson Potter

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

In this recipe, I play the role of a well-trained French home cook or, for that matter, any savvy home cook. I use the leftover cooked split peas from the Lemon Rasam to make a quick South Indian inspired snack or lunch dish that will delight you and anyone else you’re cooking for. You can make it spicier, tangier, or more herbal by adding more chiles, lemon juice, or cilantro. Myself, I never seem to make this dish the same way twice. I’m always playing with the seasonings and I suggest that you do, too. Change them to suit your mood and whatever taste you’re hungry for. The idea is to enliven the relatively bland flavor of the lentil with acidity, heat, and spice.


Cooking Methodsauteeing


Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Recipe Courseside dish, snack

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, vegan, vegetarian

Mealdinner, lunch, snack

Taste and Textureherby, hot & spicy, spiced, tart

Type of Dishsalad


  • 2½ tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon yellow split peas
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 whole dried red chiles
  • 8 fresh or 12 frozen curry leaves, torn into pieces (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon asafetida (optional)
  • 1 fresh hot green chile, cut crosswise into thin slices
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup split peas or lentils simmered in water to cover until tender, and drained
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Combine the oil, the mustard seeds, if using, and yellow split peas in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or casserole over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the mustard seeds crackle and/or the dal begins to color, 1 to 2 minutes. (Cover the pan if using mustard seeds; they pop and splatter.)

  2. Add the cumin and cook, stirring, until the cumin turns golden brown, about 1 minute.

  3. Add the dried chiles, and the curry leaves and asafetida, if using, and cook, stirring, about 1 more minute. (Stand back if using curry leaves; they spit when they hit the oil.)

  4. Add the fresh chile, onion, and salt and cook until the onion softens, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the coconut, if using, and cook, stirring, until it turns golden brown, about 2 more minutes. Add the tomato and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

  5. Add the cooked lentils, lemon juice, and cilantro and stir until the lentils are warmed through. Taste for salt. Spoon the salad into a serving bowl and serve warm or at room temperature.


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