Slow Cooker Lentil Tacos with Indian Spices

two lentil tacos with yogurt and cilantro

Each December, my children’s school hosts a craft fair that is as homespun as they come. Parents and middle schoolers spend months making handmade goods 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 booth is manned by one of the teachers whose family hail from India. He brews up a pot of savory lentils called dal, which he spoons over tortillas, finishing the whole business with yogurt and chutney. Lines form to buy one (or several) of these Slow Cooker Lentil Tacos with Indian Spices. They’re often the first to sell out.

What Are Lentil Tacos with Indian Spices?

Today’s easy recipe is a nod to those craft fair tacos. It comes courtesy of our crock pot experts Jane McKay and Meg Barnhart of the Zen of Slow Cooking. And while it might sound sort of unusal, the recipe calls for familiar ingredients and requires minimal fuss in the kitchen. 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.

Slow Cooker Lentil Tacos

Health Benefits of Lentils

Clearly this isn’t your typical taco recipe. Aside from the fact that it’s not remotely Mexican, it’s also made with lentils instead of more standard beans. Lentils are a nutrient-packed legume that provides protein, fiber, and a decent dose of iron, which can be hard to come by if you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Adding yogurt means a dose of probiotics and a hit of protein to boot. Choose a whole-grain tortilla and you get even more fiber in every taco.

How to Make Slow Cooker Tacos

You start by sautéeing onion with ginger and garlic until tender. Then, in goes a variety of Indian spices to perfume your pot. After that, everything gets transferred to the slow cooker, where it stews for a couple of hours until tender. Once the lentils are done, it’s a matter of assembly. I like to spoon the fixings into a small flour tortilla, but corn will do the trick, too. To finish, add a dollop of plain yogurt, fresh cilantro, and Indian chutney if you have one on hand.

Two Lentil Tacos with cilantro and yogurt

Top Tips to Make Indian-Style Lentil Tacos

Here are a few simple tips to make a successful pot of these healthy tacos:

  • Be sure to pick through the lentils before using to eliminate any tiny stones or debris.
  • This recipe relies heavily on spices. Check to make sure yours aren’t antiques. If they’ve been in the pantry more than a year or two, it might be time to replace them.
  • Tortillas are that much tastier when slightly blistered, either directly over a gas burner, or in a pan set on the stove.
  • This is an entirely vegetarian recipe. If you prefer it to be vegan, look for a plain, plant-based yogurt.
  • If you want to make this for a bigger crowd, feel free to double the recipe.

When you’re lentils are done and everything is on the table, you’ve got a meal worthy of family dinner, or perhaps, your next craft fair.

Be sure to check out these other tasty vegan recipes!

Coconut Lime Chickpea Stew

Instant Pot Rice and Vegetable Soup

Vegan Eggplant Meatballs

Green Lentil Daal by Slow The Cook Down

Vegan Enchiladas by Oh She Glows

Slow Cooker Lentil Tacos with yogurt and cilantro

Two Lentil Tacos with cilantro and yogurt
4.75 from 4 votes
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Slow Cooker Lentil Tacos with Indian Spices

An easy slow cooker recipe that gives traditional tacos a different spin using nourishing green lentils. Once seasoned south Asian spices, pile the lentils on tortillas with yogurt, cilantro, and hot sauce or Indian chutney, if you like.

Course Dinner
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 20 days 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 475 kcal
Author katiemorford

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups 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 jalapeño pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 8 Corn or small flour tortillas
  • 3/4 cup Plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup cilantro sprigs
  • Optional garnishes: finely shredded cabbage, pickled cabbage, hot sauce, Indian-style chutney

Instructions

  1. Pick through the lentils to be sure there is no debris or tiny stones.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium-high in a large skillet. Add the onion, carrot, ginger, garlic and optional jalapeño. Sauté 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.

  3. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours until the lentils are very tender. Add the salt, stir, and taste to see if more salt is needed. 

  4. When ready to serve, warm the tortillas directly over a gas burner or in a cast iron skillet until just slightly blistered and wrap in a clean dish towel. Make tacos by topping a tortilla with a generous spoonful of lentils, a dollop of yogurt, a pinch of fresh cilantro, and any of the optional garnishes.

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.

 

Comments

05.19.2015 at10:14 AM #

[email protected] Athletic avocado

these look so good! pinning 🙂

05.19.2015 at10:14 AM #

katiemorford

Thanks Rachel! And so easy.

05.19.2015 at1:39 PM #

Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

Such a good idea! My two favorite cuisines! Mexican and Indian! Ah!

05.19.2015 at1:39 PM #

katiemorford

Two of my favorites on one plate too!

05.20.2015 at12:39 AM #

yunah

!!!! Those are the best!!!

05.20.2015 at12:39 AM #

katiemorford

Perhaps you need an SF field trip come December!

05.21.2015 at9:06 AM #

aida mollenkamp

These sound delicious!

12.28.2015 at11:38 AM #

Jessica @ Nutritioulicious

Most popular recipe of 2015? I’ll definitely be giving this one a try!

01.09.2016 at12:25 AM #

Katie B - Australia

We’ve been enjoying these every couple of weeks since you posted them. We’re a mad keen on Mexican family so I love tha my two little people (4 and 7) adore these meat free options.

Thanks for an awesome blog Katie (great name btw) I’ve introduced a bunch of my friends to it, you make me look great on a regular basis. Here’s to a magnificent 2016!

01.09.2016 at12:25 AM #

katiemorford

Hi Katie

So nice to hear from you. We’re big fans of those tacos, too. I so appreciate you spreading the word down under. Happy 2016 to you too.

09.24.2017 at8:24 PM #

Britt

These were terrific!

09.24.2017 at8:24 PM #

katiemorford

Probably my favorite slow cooker dinner recipe. Glad you liked it too.

10.28.2017 at1:59 PM #

Gloria

Can I use Red Lentils instead of the green lentils?

10.28.2017 at1:59 PM #

katiemorford

Without having made it with red lentils, I couldn’t say what to expect in terms of results. Red lentils cook much more quickly than other lentils and they also tend to fall apart a bit more, so it might be a bit mushy. If you want to use red lentils, I’d suggest making my Red lentil coconut curry soup. http://www.momskitchenhandbook.com/recipes/a-soup-for-lentil-red-lentil-coconut-curry-soup/

09.06.2018 at7:48 PM #

Rebecca E Case

🙂

09.10.2019 at5:03 AM #

Beverly

I added 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Turmeric is so good for you, but the piperine in the black pepper increases the bio-availability. It looks like a great recipe and I can’t wait to try it.

09.10.2019 at5:03 AM #

katiemorford

Great addition! And yes, you are right about the turmeric and black pepper.

09.10.2019 at1:47 PM #

Christine

Would this work in an instant pot?

09.10.2019 at1:47 PM #

katiemorford

Hi Christine, I definitely think this recipe lends itself to the Instant Pot. That said, I’ve not tried it, so can’t say how to adjust the liquid and cooking time. A little Google research on cooking lentils on the IP might provide some insight.

07.10.2020 at10:24 AM #

Elise

Hi Katie. I’m such a fan – thx for all you do. These sound delish & I’d like to make them this afternoon. Quick Q for you: I don’t have a slow cooker. Instead, could I put in my Le Creuset, in the oven, at say 300 or so for a couple hours? Is that too hot, or too long? I’d appreciate any thoughts.

07.10.2020 at10:24 AM #

katiemorford

Absolutely. Maybe set it to 300. I’ve never done it this way, but I’m guessing cooking time would be closer to an hour and I’d keep an eye on the liquid to see if it needs more. Let me know how it goes.

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