African Spicy Lentil Dip

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Lentil Dip (2)

Most people don’t normally visualize a dip made of lentils. At least I didn’t until recently. I discovered a  lentil dip recipe in a magazine and was inspired to recreate my own interpretation. Lentils as commonly used in soups and stews. Nowadays, dips can be virtually made out of anything imaginable. Lentils are often used in African cuisine,  especially in countries on the Indian-influenced eastern coast, such as Tanzania and Kenya. Contrary to what you have been woefully misled to believe, lentils laced with garlic and various spices make for a really wonderful concoction that is great as a dip and as a spread.  Akin to to ubiquitous hummus, this spicy lentil dip recipe uses lentils that don’t require soaking and long boiling time. Unlike hummus, however, lentils yield a smoother dip as they are smaller than chickpeas.  Who would have thought that lentils would be so versatile? Apart from containing a lot of protein, lentils are a great source great source for iron and lentils also contain dietary fiber, folate, vitamin B1. I used brown lentils for this vegan dip but I recommend red lentils to novices as they cook a lot faster and break down more easily therefore making them ideal for dips. Lentils are not popular among my peers and family. I was a bit hesitant to serve this lentil tip fearing that it wouldn’t be received well by my guests. I took that risk anyways. To my surprise, they kept on begging for more. Serve with whole wheat pita chips, toasted bread, corn chips or bread sticks. Have an aversion to lentils or know someone who does? Perhaps this recipe may help them conquer whatever repulsion they have of these legumes. It’s just a matter of consistency and retaining the perfect balance of flavors.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 cups of brown or red lentils rinsed and drained
  2. 2 cloves of garlic minced
  3. 1 small jalapeno pepper minced
  4. 1 onion chopped
  5. Juice from one lemon
  6. 1 teaspoon of cumin
  7. 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  8. 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  9. 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  10. 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  11. 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
  12. Salt and pepper for taste


Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Add lentils, vegetables, and spices ans saute until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the lentils in the process.  Add enough water to cover by 4 inches and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the lentils are tender. Drain and place ingredients in a food processor along with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Puree till smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the cilantro.

Yields 12 servings


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