Main Meals

Bombay-Style Chicken with Red Split Lentils

One of my goals for next year is to learn how to properly cook home-style Indian food that’s fairly simple to make, delicious and nutritious at the same time.  I like Indian food in general but I shy away from cooking it because a) it’s easier to drive down a mile and eat whatever I am craving at that moment and b) everything I try to make ends up tasting the same and that frustrates me. So to remedy that, I am currently reading Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking (the one I got has a different cover as its a new, expanded edition). Besides being an award-winning actress, Madhur Jaffrey is regarded as the world authority on Indian food and has many best-selling cookbooks, mainly focused on Indian cuisine. I have bookmarked many recipes from the book which I may slowly share later. But for today, I have Bombay-Style Chicken with Red Split Lentils, a hearty-stew that is just perfect for winter months.  The Recipe Redux‘s theme this month is “Grab a Book & Cook” from the nearest cookbook and ReDux the recipe on page 42 or 142 in order to celebrate the 42nd anniversary month of Recipe Redux and it’s so appropriate that the Bombay-Style Chicken with Red Split Lentils is on page 44 at the very beginning of poultry section.



My idea of curry always involves a thick tomato/onion gravy and sometimes a guzzle of cream but this Bombay-Style Chicken with Red Split Lentils really intrigued me as the thick gravy/stew-like texture comes primarily from lentils. I was completely sold when I saw this delectable stew calls for only two tablespoons of oil for the entire recipe which feeds 6-7 people. In some sense, this dish reminded me of chicken and couscous haleem except that here bone-in chicken pieces are cooked together with the lentils; I love how you can scoop the thick gravy and chicken pieces perfectly with naan/tandoori roti or even freshly cooked rice.



Just a little heads up- the ingredient list may look little longer than you are used to but all the ingredients are easily available in most grocery stores. We are talking turmeric, cumin, and garam masala! The core of this recipe is red split lentils (known as masoor daal) which most people adore because of it’s fast cooking quality. I have always purchased red lentils at Indian grocery stores but I have also seen them at Whole Foods/Central Market in their bulk bin section. The whole recipe takes about 1.5 hours to make but it’s mostly a waiting game while lentils and chicken simmers together in one large saucepan.



Like other beans/lentils, split red lentils are a nutritional power-house; they are a wonderful source of protein, fiber, and many micronutrients. I think split red lentil daal will be great and I may not even need my slow cooker (like the time I made yellow split pea daal) since they cook so quickly. Even though cooking Bombay-Style Chicken with Red Split Lentils is a one-pot dish, it is actually a two step process. First daal is cooked until it’s mushy then chicken pieces are added and allowed to get tender – the daal mixture will look thick but once you add the chicken and simmer at a low heat, the chicken pulls out more water. Just remember to cook them in low heat and stir every few minutes. Towards the end, you fry garlic/spices until it sizzles and stir in the pot to finish the cooking process.




You can most definitely make this dish in advance, store it properly, and reheat it right before serving too.  Usually, I make changes to the original recipe but Bombay-Style Chicken with Red Split Lentils is already healthy so I did not make any changes this time besides scaling down the recipe to serve 3-4. Please adjust the spices especially for chili and lemon juice per your taste as I like mine more on the tangy and spicy side.

Bombay-Style Chicken with Red Split Lentils
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 3-4
hearty stew like dish with chicken and red split lentils is perfect for cold winter days!
  • 1/2 cup red lentils, picked over, washed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 green chili, sliced
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoon finely chopped ginger, divided
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1.5 lbs chicken, skinless (I used both legs and thigh pieces)
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • dash of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • handful of cilantro, chopped (for garnishing)
  1. Combine ingredients from red lentils to water in a large sauce pan. Use only 1 teaspoon of ginger and save the rest for later.Bring the pot to simmer, covered but slightly ajar for about 35-40 minutes. Then add the chicken and salt and bring the mix to a boil. Lower the heat and continue simmering for another 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Stir the pot every few minutes to make sure the lentils do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Put the oil in a small frying-pan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and once it sizzles, add the remaining ginger and garlic. Continue to fry until garlic turns slightly brown. Add red chili powder to the pan and immediately pour its contents into the saucepan with chicken.
  3. Stir in lemon juice, sugar, and garam masala and cook on medium heat for additional 5 minutes.
  4. Garnish with cilantro if desired and serve it hot with rice/naan/bread.

I hope this Bombay-Style Chicken with Red Split Lentils will encourage you to get cooking more at home!!

Click the link below to see what other reduxer’s are upto this month.

Dixya Bhattarai

Dixya Bhattarai

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