Turkish Carrots and Lentils with Herbs

This shows just how delicious frugality can be.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, in thin crescent moon shapes
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup green or Puy lentils
  • 6 large carrots, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable stock or water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, parsley, or dill
  • Good squeeze of lemon juice
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion until soft and pale gold. Add the garlic and spices and cook for 2 minutes. Now add everything else except the herbs, lemon juice, and extra-virgin olive oil.

2. Bring to a boil and cook until tender and the liquid has been absorbed. It should take 30 minutes.

3. Taste, add the herbs and lemon juice, then adjust the seasoning. Add a generous slug of extra-virgin olive oil. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

also try…

Moroccan spiced carrots:

Heat 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a heavy saucepan and sauté 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, and 1 fresh red chile, seeded and shredded, until the garlic is pale gold. Add 2 tsp ground cumin and 1 tsp cayenne and cook for another minute, then add 1 lb carrots, in batons, and turn to coat. Add 1/3 cup orange juice, a pinch of light brown sugar, seasoning, and water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook until tender. The carrots should absorb the liquid. Stir in 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature as a side dish or part of a Middle Eastern mezze. Serves 4 as a side dish.

Uzbeki carrots:

Cook 1 lb carrots (in batons or chunks) in water until tender, then drain. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter in a frying pan and add 2 tsp caraway seeds, 2 tsp sweet paprika, and 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes. Cook for 30 seconds, then toss in the carrots. Stir them around, season, and serve. Serves 4 as a side dish.

The recipes above are quite exotic, but also consider: Cook 1 lb carrots (in batons or slices) in chicken stock or water with a pat of butter, seasoning, and a little sugar until the liquid has been absorbed and the carrots are tender and glazed. Or add chunks of fried bacon and parsley or mint. A slug of heavy cream is lovely, too. Or go luxurious and toss the cooked carrots with butter-fried wild (or cultivated) mushrooms, adding a dollop of cream and a generous grating of nutmeg or sprinkling of parsley.

Reprinted from Plenty by Diana Henry.

Prep time: 
20 minutes
Cook time: 
40 minutes
Total time: 
1 hour
4-6 servings as a side dish, 3 as a main course

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