Moroccan Lentils with Spring Greens and Mint

Moroccan Lentil StewFor the past few weekends now, Desi has been a man with a mission: a mission to watch just about every version from everywhere around the world there is of the Pharrell Williams song, Happy.

And guess who gets to watch these videos with him? I love the song, mind you, because deep down under my cynical exterior is a die-hard optimist who believes that the sunshine’s just waiting to burst out from behind every gray cloud. But, I’d grumble to him, I’d rather do something more fun with my Sunday afternoon. Like watch a Brit mystery where people in picture-perfect settings do horrible things to each other.

Moroccan Lentil StewOver time, though, I started to get hooked. It is fun, really, watching people from all around the world get carried away on the wings of a song, like hot air balloons floating into space. Ahem. And there’s something magical and uplifting about watching people from every corner of the globe enjoy the same song and dance the same way and realize that, in the end, we are really no different from each other.

I was feeling particularly sunny yesterday — and happy — after I made this warm, delicious Moroccan Lentil Stew with Spring Greens and Mint.

Moroccan food makes me happy. Really, it’s that simple. Maybe it’s the coriander and the cumin– two of my favorite spices — or maybe it’s that amazing Harissa, a paste of chilies and spices that stirs magic into many Moroccan recipes, including this mindblowing chickpea stew I had shared with you way back when.

I almost always have a jar of Harissa sitting in my refrigerator, and I make it with just about any chili I have on hand, and sometimes with a mix of chilies. If you are particularly sensitive to heat, make it with milder chile peppers, like ancho. If you like the heat, try a fiery chile like arbol.  Either way, you will end up with delicious.

This is my second lentil recipe this week and I won’t apologize for being repetitive because, really, there is no way one can get repetitive with lentils. The flavors of the sambar I shared with you last week and this stew couldn’t be more apart. And the mint, a very spring-y touch, takes this recipe from excellent to divine.

Try it.

Moroccan Lentil Stew

Moroccan Lentils with Spring Greens and Mint
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Moroccan
Serves: 6
  • ¾ cup pink lentils (masoor dal)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp Harissa paste. Recipe here:
  • 1 tsp olive oil or other vegetable oil
  • 6 cups chopped spring greens (use spinach or baby kale for a variation)
  • ¼ cup chopped mint
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan.
  2. Add the onions, saute until the edges start to brown, then add the garlic.
  3. Saute for a few seconds, then add tomatoes, coriander powder and cumin powder.
  4. Saute until the tomatoes thicken and turn darker, about five minutes.
  5. Add the lentils and stir to mix.
  6. Add enough water to cover the lentils by half an inch. Bring to a boil, then cover with a tight lid, lower heat to a simmer, and cook until the lentils are really soft, about 20-30 minutes.
  7. Stir in the spring greens and the Harissa paste. Add salt to taste. Bring to a boil and let the stew cook another five minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat, add the mint and lemon juice, and check salt.
  9. Serve hot with some couscous, bulgur, or brown rice.


A big hug to everyone for standing by me while my blog went through some crazy swings over this past weekend. It was down for nearly three days because of an error made by Bluehost which hosts the blog — an experience that left me sick with worry that seven years’ of work had gone down the drain. Luckily, it hadn’t. With help from my nephew in India, Raman, who jumped in with his expertise, I have the blog back up and running again. Thanks, Raman, and thanks to all of you.

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  1. jcc2750 says

    Thank you again for another amazing recipe. You have added so much to my cooking and i so look forward to your postings. I’ve been doing the same thing as you and your husband- watching all those amazing videos from around the world. We are all more the same than we are different.

    • says

      Dear JCC, you made my day. :) Thanks for your kind words, and so happy you’ve enjoyed the recipes. Those Happy videos are really quite something, aren’t they?

    • says

      Hi Raquel, it was a little scary, but we got through it without too much damage. So happy you decided to comment– and so happy you’ve followed the blog. :)

  2. says

    It will take a lot more than a few days of tech insanity to suck you down a drain, my dear.
    That looks like the perfect comfort food without all the saturates. You rock.

  3. Ellen Lederman says

    Sounds great. I do love Moroccan food but the local restaurant has little to no vegan options—so I will just make it at home. What a wonderful way to get lentils. And fresh mint makes everything taste zingy.

    Can you explain what spring greens you used? It wasn’t spring mix meant for salads, was it? I tried to google it and am still confused…

    • says

      Hi Ellen, I use a mix of spinach, arugula and baby kale– sold here in a box as a salad mix. There is a leafy vegetable called “spring greens” and I didn’t mean that, so sorry if I confused you. You can use just one kind of green, spinach would be perfect by itself and watercress would be great here.

  4. says

    Your post was a gentle reminder that I have bookmarked Harissa and I really, really need to try it.
    I wonder if this stew would pair well with some crusty french bread? I’d love that.

    • says

      Hi Pallavi, it really is worth making some– it’s so super easy and gives such a terrific flavor hit. If you like your chili, you’ll love this. :) And yes, this would be perfect with crusty bread. Can you see my mouth watering right now? :)

  5. says

    Hi Vaishali,
    After being a silent follower finally getting a chance to try something from your recipe book. I feel you deserve publishing a book! :)
    Can you share what kind of red chillies? I go to the supermarket and see so many kinds of red chillies that I get confused. Are you talking about the red thai chillies or something else? Also, if I want the taste of a chilli but without the spicy hit that leaves a burn at the back of my throat, what chilli would you suggest?
    Thanks a ton! Glad your blog made it through. I hope you keep taking backups into an xml file from time to time. :)
    Take care.

    • says

      Hi Deepti, nice to finally meet you– thanks for leaving a message, and for your kind words. You are awesome. :)
      You can really use any red chili for this — I used a mix of ancho, kashmiri and arbol, because those are what I had on hand. Even the standard red Indian chili we buy in Indian grocery stores — if you have that at home — would work. If you don’t want a spicy burn, use a mild pepper, like ancho or even Kashmiri chillies which give great color but are moderately hot. Thai bird’s eye chilies are pretty hot, so don’t use those if you don’t want too much heat.
      And thanks for the reminder on xml files and backing up. I am going to be better about doing that in the future. I don’t want to go through that horrible experience again– I felt like I was letting all of my readers down, not to mention afraid I was going to lose the blog. :(

      • says

        Hi, I cooked this with a readymade Moroccan Spice Mix that I got and it turned out spicy but delicious! :) I also tried Mushroom Biryani. It turned out to be too elaborate but I survived and had a great result! :)
        Thank you. Will keep visiting…

        • says

          Hi Deepti, so glad you tried the lentils and the Biryani. I agree the biryani’s a little elaborate– maybe I need to post a quickie biryani version? But happy you liked it, and thanks for letting me know. :)

  6. Sunitha says

    Hi Vaishali,

    When you say masoor dal, are you talking about the split masoor we use in Indian cooking? Or the whole pink/red/ brown lentils you’d find in a regular grocery store?


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