Creamy black lentils in tomato sauce
Tiny black lentils (also called black urid dal) are cooked with tomato paste and Indian spices to create a creamy dal that’s rich and flavorful. A cream substitute makes the dish much lighter and vegan.

Junoon restaurant interior

Photo provided by Junoon Restaurant.

In October 2010 I had the great pleasure of eating at Junnoon Restaurant in Palo Alto, California. It’s a gorgeous, upscale South Indian eatery featuring foods from the Goa region. The food was incredible and they were happy to provide me many vegetarian and gluten-free options. In general, Indian restaurants are good choices for gluten-free dining, as most dishes are naturally gluten-free.

Executive Chef Kirti Pant has been kind enough to provide me with three recipes to share, which I have tested in the Recipe Renovator kitchen and modified slightly to make them vegan. These recipes sent me on a fun trip to our local Indian grocery store, Ker Fresh. Check out the recipes for vegetarian keema and cranberry chutney as well.

Suitable for:
vegan, gluten-free, low-sodium, reduced-sugar diets

Not for:
migraine diets

Creamy black lentils in tomato sauce

Creamy black lentils in tomato sauce

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6 servings


  • 1 cup lentils black urid (225 g)
  • 6 ounces tomato paste no salt added
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek (dried)
  • 2 tbsp ginger (fresh) or ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp garlic or garlic paste
  • 1 tsp sea salt (omit for low-sodium diet)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk light or regular
  • 2-4 tbsp Earth Balance margarine, butter, ghee (use unsalted for low-sodium diet)


  • Pick over the lentils to remove any rocks or debris. The easiest way to do this is to pour them a few at a time into a shallow bowl, then dump into your cooking pot. Rinse thoroughly and drain.
  • Put the lentils in a large pot with a lid, add 3 C. (750 ml) of filtered water and the tomato paste and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, stir to mix the tomato paste evenly, cover, and cook for about one hour.
  • While the lentils are cooking, put the next three ingredients (dry spices) into a dry skillet and toast on medium heat until they are fragrant. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  • When the lentils are tender but not mushy, stir in the rest of the ingredients and cook 10-20 minutes until the flavors are nicely melded.
  • Add additional garam masala or chili powder to your taste. Serve over brown rice.


Per serving:
  • 190 calories
  • 5 g fat
  • 2 g saturated fat
  • 1 g monounsaturated fat
  • 1 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 0 g trans fat
  • 0 g cholesterol
  • 439 mg sodium (31 mg sodium with salt omitted, using unsalted butter)
  • 368 mg potassium
  • 27 g carbohydrate
  • 11 g fiber
  • 4 g sugars
  • 11 g protein
  • 4 Weight Watchers Points Plus
If you are buying ginger and garlic paste, make sure you check the sodium content on the brand you purchase. Some have no added salt, some are insanely high. So read your labels.
You can also use red or green lentils in this dish. Check them after 30 minutes and adjust the cooking time if needed. If you are not vegan, the original recipe called for 1/2 C. of butter and 1/2 C. of cream, which accounted for its amazingly rich taste. You can use MimicCream, soy creamer, or half-and-half. It was delicious with MimicCreme and 2 T. of Earth Balance margarine.