Each December, my childrens’ school hosts a craft fair that is as homespun as they come. Parents and middle schoolers spend weeks, if not months, planning and making handmade wares that range from colorful sock puppets to delicate wreaths crafted from tree branches. An entire section of the fair is devoted to edible crafts, mostly cookies and cupcakes made by fledgling young cooks. Tempting as the sweets may be, though, my favorite fair booth is manned by one of the teachers whose family hail from India. He brews up a pot of savory lentils, which he spoons over tortillas, finishing the whole business with yogurt and chutney. Lines form to buy one (or several) of these Indian-style tacos; they’re often the first to sell out.

Today’s recipe is a nod to those craft fair tacos. It comes courtesy of our resident guest contributors and crock pot experts Jane McKay and Meg Barnhart of the Zen of Slow Cooking. And while it might sound sort of exotic, the recipe calls for familiar ingredients and requires minimal fuss in the kitchen. French lentils stew alongside ginger and a host of Indian spices until tender and flavorful. The result is not only delicious, but a nutrient powerhouse, packed with protein, folate, fiber, and iron.

So, get these lentils going in your slow cooker. When they’re done, spoon them onto tortillas, finish with a few garnishes, and you’ve got a meal worthy of family dinner, or perhaps, your next craft fair.

Like lentils? Check out my French Lentil Salad with Feta and Mint by going here or my Red Lentil Coconut Curry Soup by going here. For more flavors of India, you’ll find a colorful line up over on Cooking Light. 

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Slow Cooker Indian Tacos

An easy slow cooker recipe that gives traditional tacos a decidedly Indian spin. Lentils are seasoned with south Asian spices and then piled onto tortillas with yogurt, cilantro, and if you happen to have it in your pantry, Indian chutney.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups French green lentils
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 2 medium diced carrots
  • 2- inch piece minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 small finely chopped jalapeno pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • Corn or flour tortillas
  • Garnishes: roughly chopped cilantro , plain yogurt, favorite Indian chutney

Instructions

  1. Pick through the lentils to be sure there is no debris or tiny stones.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the onion, carrot, ginger, garlic and optional jalapeno. Saute gently for 3 minutes. Add the coriander, turmeric, cumin and curry powder and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker. Add the tomato paste, lentils and broth and stir well to combine the ingredients.
  3. Cook on high for 2 ½ hours. Once cooked, the lentils can be left on the warm setting for flexibility.
  4. When ready to serve the lentils, warm the tortillas directly over a gas burner or in a cast iron skillet until just slightly blistered. Store in a clean dish towel until ready to serve. Make tacos by topping a tortilla with a generous spoonful of lentils, a dollop of yogurt, a pinch of fresh cilantro, and if you have it, a dab of your favorite Indian chutney.

Recipe Notes

Very slightly adapted and used with permission from the Zen of Slow Cooking, where you can find an abundance of fabulous slow cooker recipes.