Lentil recipes for good health


mixed pulses
mixed pulses

Love your beans for good health was the theme of this year’s National Nutrition Week which wrapped up at the weekend. This year the campaign theme focussed on pulses, echoing the country’s food-based dietary guideline to eat dry beans, split peas, lentils and soya regularly.

The Association for Dietetics in South Africa has supplied recipes using pulses to make healthy and delicious use of peas, beans and lentils.

Lentil burger
Vegetarian burger Picture: Vanessa Marx

VEGGIE BURGERS (makes 6 burgers)

350g butternut cubes
350g sweet potato cubes
150g lentils, cooked
2ml ground cinnamon
2ml ground nutmeg
30ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt & ground black pepper
½ cup ground almonds
1 whole iceberg lettuce

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Add butternut, sweet potato and oil in a roasting tray. Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
3. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, until soft. Leave butternut and sweet potato to cool.
4. Mix lentils, vegetables and half the almonds in a bowl. Mash the mixture together until even. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary.
5. Split the mixture into 6 evenly sized balls. Shape into burger patties and coat in the remaining almonds.
6. Drizzle oil into a non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Fry the patties for 1 minute on each side until golden brown.
7. Put your burger patty on the middle of a whole ice berg leaf. Wrap your burger up in a lettuce leaf and serve.
8. Add favourite burger toppings like guacamole, salsa and fresh sprouts.

(Source and image: Vanessa Marx for the Association for Dietetics in South Africa)

lentil curry
Lentil, pea and sweet potato curry  Picture: Vanessa Marx


2 tablespoons avocado oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (crushed)
2 carrots, finely chopped or grated
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-size cubes
½ cup red lentils
5 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup reduced fat coconut milk
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon honey or brown sugar
1 cup basmati rice
1 cup green peas
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Tomato and onion salsa

2 tomatoes chopped
½ onion finely chopped

For the salsa: combine the tomato and onion and season, mix and enjoy served with your curry.

For the curry:

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and cook the onions for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the garlic, carrot, ginger, ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and chili and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the potato and lentils and stir to coat with the spice mixture.
3. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, stock, garam masala, salt and sugar, bring to the boil and cover with a lid.
4. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. While the curry simmers, cook the rice.
6. Add the peas to the curry and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
7. Remove from the heat and stir in the coriander and lemon juice.
8. Serve on a bed of rice with a dollop of plain yoghurt and with a tomato and onion salsa.

Variations: Replace the coriander with fresh mint. Serve with naan bread instead of rice. For more nutrients add in a cup of frozen vegetables.

(Source and image: Vanessa Marx for the Association for Dietetics in South Africa)

lentil bobotie
Lentil bobotie


2 cup lentils, cooked
30 ml canola oil
1 onion, peeled & chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled & finely chopped or crushed
20g grated fresh ginger
100g green beans, chopped
½ cup raisins
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 can chopped tomatoes
½ cup water
30ml mild curry spice
5ml ground cinnamon
2 bay leaves
2 free-range eggs
¼ cup low fat plain yoghurt
2ml ground turmeric
salt & pepper
10g fresh coriander, chopped
2 extra bay leaves

1. Put a large pot on the stove on a medium heat and add the oil.
2. Add the chopped onion, ginger and garlic and sauté lightly for about 5 minutes. Then add the carrots, red pepper, green beans and raisins and continue to sweat for another 5 minutes.
3. Add the curry spice, cinnamon and bay leaves and stir in for 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and water and stir in.
4. Cook the sauce for about 15 minutes until slightly thickened and the vegetables have softened a little. Add the lentils and season with salt and pepper to taste and mix in.
5. Put the lentil mixture into an oven proof dish and set aside.
6. In a bowl, whisk together the yoghurt, eggs and turmeric. Pour the egg mixture over the lentil bobotie and place the 2 bay leaves on top.
7. Bake the bootie in the oven at 180ºC for about 20 minutes until the egg custard has set and is slightly golden brown on top.
8. Remove from the oven and serve hot with chopped fresh coriander

(Source: Taryn Littleton for the Association for Dietetics in South Africa)

So much nutrition advice is centred on what we need to eat less of, but when it comes to pulses – your dry beans, peas and lentils – the message is about eating more!

“There’s a good reason to put dry beans, peas, lentils and soya into the spotlight. Unfortunately, they are largely overlooked as they are often seen as a ‘poor man’s food’ and they can take a long time to cook,” says Lynn Moeng-Mahlangu, of the National Department of Health.

“We should be eating them, along with a variety of foods, at least four times a week; and yet, many of us hardly include them in our diets. There’s just not enough awareness of how they contribute to healthy lifestyles, or how to use them well to make delicious meals.”

More information and recipes from the Nutrition Week website

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