Lentil meatballs in curry sauce is a delicious meatless meal with a rich sauce and lots of great, rustic flavors.

Well, I did it to myself again. I noticed a lonely bag of 60-cent lentils sitting at my local grocery store, and I decided to bring them home and figure out what to make with them.

I mean, 60 cents? Who can resist such a bargain?

I’ve only made lentils once before, for a soup, so I’m not sure why I thought it was a good idea to buy more, but then, of course, I doubled down and chose what appeared to be a pretty involved recipe to use them in.

But let me tell you what: it was so worth it. This was so delicious, so if you’re ready to undertake a cooking adventure with me, I’d encourage you to give this a shot.

The recipe I tried comes from a blog named after its author, “Bianca Zapatka.” You can find the original post at https://biancazapatka.com/en/lentil-meatballs-curry-sauce/. I added some more spices to my version.

Lentil Meatballs in Curry Sauce

Lentil meatballs in curry sauce is a delicious meatless meal with a rich sauce and lots of great, rustic flavors.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: coconut milk, curry, gingerbread, lentils, meatless, red bell pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, vegan

Ingredients

Meatball Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried coriander
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs

Curry Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or use olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated (or sub 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 3 large tomatoes diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons red chili flakes

Instructions

  • Cook the lentils according to package directions. (Don’t worry if they get a little mushy—you’re going to process them anyway.)
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • For the meatballs, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion until it’s soft, and then add the garlic and remove the skillet from the heat when it browns slightly.
  • Add all of the meatball ingredients to a food processor or blender and process to a coarse consistency. There will probably still be some whole lentils in there, and that’s perfectly fine. Taste the filling and add any more spices, if necessary.
  • If the mixture is too wet to hold together, add more breadcrumbs until it reaches a consistency where it will. Set the mixture aside for about 10 minutes to let it cool down before handling it.
  • Have a bowl of water handy and shape the mixture with wet hands into about one-inch balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. They can be fairly crowded but not touching. Brush them with some additional olive oil and bake for 30 minutes, turning them halfway through.
  • While the meatballs cook, start on the curry sauce. Using the same skillet as before, heat the coconut oil over medium heat and add the onion and bell pepper. Cook them until soft.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, cumin and curry powder, and stir to combine. Once the garlic is slightly browned, add the tomatoes, water, coconut milk, salt and chili flakes.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat. Place a lid on the skillet and let it cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor and blend until it’s smooth. Pour the sauce back into the skillet and let it cook for a few minutes to thicken a bit, and taste it to see if it needs more seasoning.
  • When the meatballs are finished, drop them into the skillet with the curry sauce and then serve over cooked rice with some pita or naan bread on the side.

I added quite a bit more spice to my version, because I like spicy curry sauce. If you’re more in the mild camp, I’d encourage you to look up the original recipe and follow those amounts a bit more closely.

This was such a great meatless meal, because you honestly don’t notice that there isn’t meat in it. The “meatballs” aren’t meat-like in consistency at all, but they have great flavor. They’re a bit like a soft hushpuppy.

And while Joey was pretty skeptical watching me cook my lentils, he was totally on board once dinner finally hit the table. My forays into discount shopping sometimes freak him out a bit.

But now I still have half a bag of lentils to try to use. We’ll have to see what I come up with next.

This piece first appeared in print on Aug. 6, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.