Monday, January 14, 2013

Indian Spiced Lentil Loaf...

Everyone loves a good lentil loaf right? At least it seems that way. I say that because out of the 100 + cook books that I own I would say at least three quarters of them contain a recipe for a vegan ‘meatloaf’ or some variation of the classic hippy lentil loaf. Now, I was never that big a fan of ‘meatloaf,’ because well... for starters meat shouldn’t come in a loaf, ans secondly when you really think about what it is you’re eating - a big ole slab of ground beef with ketchup and breadcrumbs - it doesn’t really sound that appetizing. Certainly it’s not a very creative dish. A good lentil loaf on the other hand can blow your mind, after all lentils are a really versatile food, and I never fail to be amazed at what they can be made into. Plus on these cold winter nights when you’re dying for something savory and comforting but don’t want to do a lot of work a lentil loaf is perfect. They’re quick and easy to throw together with minimal active time. Once you have it in the oven baking you can take a shower, read a book, do some yoga, or just relax with a hot cup of tea.

Lentils loafs are also rich in nutrients. You get protein from the lentils, plus lots of healthful nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from the array of spices and vegetables you decide to put into them. The problem though - at least for me - is that so many of the lentil loaf recipes floating around out there are the same. It’s always the same kind of lentils - usually brown - with the same basic combination of vegetables - onions, carrot, celery, - and the same combination of herbs - parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, basil, oregano. - Vegetable brother is another typical component as is soy sauce and are almost always topped with ketchup or BBQ sauce. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like this combination - a lot - but as you know I like variety. I’ve never been the type of person who makes the same thing over and over again and so I require a little more creativity in my life.

I had been thinking a lot about lentil loafs last November when I happened upon an interesting recipe in Robin Asbell’s book “Big Vegan” it was a French inspired lentil loaf with Herbs de Provence and a Dijon Mustard glaze, yum! I was immediately excited and so I made the loaf. It was beyond excellent, and it got me thinking about what other kind of cultural twists I could throw into a lentil loaf to shake things up a bit. Initially I wrote down a bunch of ideas that I’m eager to try out, but since Indian food is one of my - and my husband’s, - favorites, that seemed the most natural direction to go in first.

When I first came up with the idea I had no idea how I was really going to do it. I had no idea if it would be good or if it would even be edible, but in the end I really surprised myself because the loaf turned out really fantastic. It tasted like a big samosa covered in mango chutney. It had all the great flavors I love about Indian Cuisine, the sweet, the spicy, the pungent, all rolled up in one easy package. My husband loved it too and so we enjoyed this delicious Indian spiced loaf for 2 days as dinner and 2 days as leftovers in lunches. It was the perfect hearty meal for those cold nights that proceeded the beginning of the Christmas season.

One thing to keep in mind about this recipe however is the fact that this makes a very large loaf. It was too large for my regular loaf pan and so I baked it in a cake pan instead. If you’re not looking to make quite so much you could easily half the recipe, but remember that halving it will mean a shorter cooking time also. Anywhere from 25-40 minutes less, depending on the consistency of the loaf at the time you pour it into the pan. Though if you were so inclined to make the recipe as is it tastes fantastic as leftovers, either on it’s own or stuffed into whole grain pita bread with sliced tomato, onion, lettuce, cucumber and a little additional chutney. Or be a little more traditional and roll it up into some Naan bread. However you decide to make it just enjoy it!

Indian Spiced Lentil Loaf 

1 C Green lentils
½ C Red Lentils
3 C Water
1 1/4 C Oat Flour
6 Garlic Cloves Minced
1 Tbsp Ginger grated
1 Yellow Onion Diced
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
3 Yukon Gold Potatoes diced
1 Tbsp Peanut Oil
2 C Cauliflower Chopped
1 Large Carrot
½ Frozen Green Peas
5-6 Tbsp Curry Powder
1 tsp Ground Turmeric
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Cardamom
4 tsp Ground Cumin
2 tsp Ground Coriander
Sea salt and Black Pepper to taste
2-4 Tbsp Mango Chutney
2 Tbsp Tamarind Paste
8oz Mango Chutney

- Preheat oven to 400'F/200'C

- Cook Green and Red Lentils in 3 Cups water until tender and most of water has been absorbed. If not all the water has been absorbed by the time the lentils are tender drain in a colander. If lentils are not tender by the time the water has absorbed add more. Once cooked set aside to cool.

- Steam the Potatoes and Cauliflower until just tender, then set aside to cool.

- In a pan over medium-high heat saute the mustard seeds for a few seconds until they begin popping. Add the peanut oil, the onion, garlic and ginger and saute for 5-7 minutes until translucent.

- In food processor combine the cooked lentils, potatoes, cauliflower, onion mixture, and the oat flour. Pulse until just combined.

- Add the Cardamom, Cumin, Coriander, Salt, Pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, curry powder, tamarind paste, and the 2-4 Tbsp of Mango Chutney. Pulse until it the mixture just becomes cohesive, and the spices have been incorporated.

- Turn the mixture out into a mixing bowl. Add in the grated carrot and the frozen peas. Stir to combine. Taste for flavor and texture and adjust seasoning as needed.  More curry powder, chutney, salt etc... If the mixture is too wet add in a bit more oat flour. If it’s too dry add in a bit of oil, water, or more chutney or tamarind paste.

- Grease a 9 inch round cake pan - I used a sprongform pan, - and scrape the mixture into it. Smooth the top with the back of a spatula then top with the 8oz of Mango Chutney.

- Bake uncovered in the oven for roughly 60-75 minutes until the top is bubbling and the loaf seems firm when you insert a knife or wooden skewer into it.

- Remove from the oven and let cool on the counter top for 10-15 minutes before slicing. Serve with a giant salad!

***Note - I chose to make this recipe wheat-free, but to ensure it’s 100% gluten-free make sure you buy gluten-free oat flour, or make your own by using gluten-free oats. Alternately if you do not have a wheat or gluten intolerance you can use any type of flour that you prefer.***


  1. This looks REALLY YUMMY! I am doing a grocery shop to night, I plan to get the stuff I need to make this tomorrow! I also want to tell you I am making your homemade veggie burgers to night, with a side of your Kale Salad, and my homemade sweet potato fries, my husband requested it! S.T.

  2. made it today, not as much curry powder, AWESOME!

  3. Thank you Steven, I'm glad you liked it!

    I think at the time I made this I was using a less potent blend of curry powder. A stronger or higher quality blend would probably not require as much - although I don't know, I do really love curry. Ha =)

    Thanks for your comment!