Aarti Sequeira’s Mom’s Everyday Red Lentils ‘Explode With Flavor in Your Mouth’

Food Network star Aarti Sequeira’s mom’s red lentils recipe is a dish close to the chef’s heart. It’s a nourishing, comfort-food meal her mom put on the family table frequently.

Simple to make and a satisfying belly-filler, it’s a recipe everyone — from college students to accomplished cooks — should add to their menu rotation.

Celebrity chef Aarti Sequeira wears a yellow blouse in this photograph.
Aarti Sequeira | Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Aarti Sequeira says she’s strongly influenced in the kitchen by her mom, who’s a ‘tremendous cook’

The chef explained to Showbiz Cheat Sheet her mother’s dedication to preserving beloved family recipes in writing and encourages home cooks everywhere to do the same.

“My grandmother died young and my mom was the oldest of her siblings,” the Aarti Party star told us. “My grandmother never wrote her recipes down. And so when she passed away, all of those recipes went with her. It wasn’t just that she took the recipes with her. She took that sort of connection to generations past with her, and she took all of that wisdom with her.

“And so my mom and her siblings, they really missed out in a way because to have them written down was not only the knowledge, but also the connection it was to look at her handwriting and to sort of feel like she was still with them in some way,” she added. “So my mom decided that was not going to happen to her and started writing down the recipes. My mom’s a tremendous cook as well and has a recipe journal.”

Sequeira’s current book, My Family Recipe Journal: With Prayers & Scriptures, is gorgeously designed to serve as a unique heirloom from one generation to the next.

The family’s lentils, in fact, earned a spot in her own recipe journal: “There’s a lentil dish that would be on our dinner table a couple of nights a week, at least every week when I was growing up,” she recalled. “So for me, the joy of passing that recipe down to my great-grandchildren is that, ‘Hey, I wrote it down for you. Otherwise, I don’t know that you would get it.’”

Sequeira’s spin on her mom’s red lentil recipe

The chef’s lentil recipe calls for masoor dal red lentils “picked through for stones,” diced onion, sliced garlic, peeled and minced ginger, diced tomato and, optionally, a serrano chile, sliced in half. The red lentils are soaked and then cooked with these ingredients for about 40 minutes.

As Sequeira states about this mild-in-appearance dish in her video, above, “There is nothing dull about these lentils, let me tell you. They explode with flavor in your mouth.”

But it’s the dish’s tempering oil that gives it an unforgettable zing: Cumin and mustard seeds are placed in one bowl and turmeric and paprika powder in another. A small amount of oil is heated in a skillet over medium-high heat and she warns “Watch closely, this happens very quickly!”

When the oil is “shimmering,” toss the seeds in, covering it immediately to prevent getting splattered with hot oil. The spices are added and the chef says, “they should sizzle and bubble a little – that’s the blooming and it’s exactly what you want.”

Stir the mixture into the cooked lentils and top with cilantro leaves before serving.

Get the full recipe, video, and reviews on Food Network’s site.

Sequeira’s lentil recipe is irresistible, according to Food Network reviewers

As the chef herself says, these lentils don’t get boring, and home cooks chimed in to Food Network’s site to say they quite agree.

“I made this today, and it’s gone. This is one of the most satisfying dishes I’ve made in a long time. and it’s very easy! The flavors melt into one another, and the result is so yummy…like a lentil jam,” one reviewer expressed.

Another person wrote, “I am vegetarian and I love lentils, but I sometimes run out of new recipe ideas for them. I gave this a try and it’s just so darn good!”

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