Lentil and Tomato Stew with Tamarind

This Community Recipe is Jewish Food Hero’s Lentil and Tomato Stew with Tamarind. Sour tamarind paste balances this soft lentil stew. It can be made on the stove-top, in a pressure cooker or in a slow cooker. 

The Jewish Food Hero Kitchen created this Lentil and Tomato Stew with Tamarind to honor the female biblical heroine Rebekah. Her story and this recipes are in the Feeding Women of the Bible, Feeding Ourselves cookbook (more on that project later).

while bowl full of Lentil and Tomato Stew with Tamarind on white table cloth

Biblical inspiration

The Biblical story of Rebekah, Jacob, Issac and Esau is one about a family that never found their balance point. This lentil stew finds its balance point thanks to a special ingredient: tamarind paste. It gives the stew a sour element. The flavor perfectly balances the tastes in this Lentil and Tomato Stew with Tamarind. 

Cook it any way you like

Although you can make this stew on your stove-top, this Lentil and Tomato Stew with Tamarind can be cooked in different ways. Actually, it is most delicious in the pressure cooker. This method of cooking makes the flavors stronger. Also, you can simply place all the ingredients in a slow cooker and leave it to bubble away for a few hours. But, take care to only add the kidney beans at the end. Otherwise, you will end up with a big bowl of mush. Each method will give slightly different results, but still be delicious. 

white bowls and white saucepan filled with Lentil and Tomato Stew with Tamarind all on white tablecloth

Use what you have

The vegetables in the Lentil and Tomato Stew with Tamarind recipes are just one way of cooking this dish. So, you can change the recipe based on what’s in season or what you have lying around. Zucchini, leeks, and cauliflower will all work. Keep the base of tomato, garlic and shallots. And you can pretty much switch everything else!

Tamarind – an essential tropical ingredient

Tamarind trees are native to Africa. Also, they grow in tropical climates across Southeast Asia and South America. They grow pods which look like bean pods. Inside, there are very hard, black seeds and “flesh”. In young tamarind fruit, the flesh is green, crunchy and sour. The mature fruit flesh is brown, chewy and extremely sticky. It is similar in texture to a date, for instance.

In Cambodia, mature tamarind is an ingredient in cooking. It is even eaten like a candy with a sugar, salt and chili coating.

The taste is tart and intense, making it a fantastic addition to this tomato based stew. Buy paste in a jar or a vacuum pack of tamarind fruit to make your own

vegetarian stew images

Key ingredients in this Lentil and Tomato Stew with Tamarind Recipe

white bowls of Lentil and Tomato Stew with Tamarind on white tablecloth

Feeding Women of the Bible, Feeding Ourselves Cookbook

Jewish Food Hero’s Lentil and Tomato Stew with Tamarind recipe features in Feeding Women of the Bible, Feeding Ourselves, a Jewish female community cookbook. If you like this recipe, you will find many many more in the book to enjoy.

The Feeding Women of the Bible, Feeding Ourselves cookbook features the short, compelling narratives of 20 female biblical heroines from the Hebrew bible. Each narrative has two healthy plant-based kosher pareve recipes to match, inspired by the character’s experience. This is a community cookbook by Jewish Food Hero and is the co-creation of 40 Jewish women. The twenty biblical narratives are contributed by Rabbis, Rabbinical students, Jewish teachers and emerging thought leaders. The forty-one plant-based recipes were developed by professional chefs and home cooks, elementary school students, and great-grandmothers.

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white bowl of Lentil and Tomato Stew with Tamarind and white saucepan with wooden handle also full of Lentil and Tomato Stew with Tamarind

Lentil and Tomato Stew with Tamarind

  • Author: The Jewish Food Hero Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 68 1x



1 cup red lentils

1⁄2 cup small brown lentils

1 15.5-oz. (450 g) can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained

4 1⁄2 cups water (or vegetable broth)

2 onions, diced

2 red peppers, diced

2 shallots, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

6 medium tomatoes, diced

4 tablespoons tomato paste

1 1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder (add more to increase the heat)

3 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon tamarind paste

2 teaspoons light brown sugar


  1. Add onions, garlic, and shallots to a stew pot and pour in 1⁄4 cup of water. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, around 5-7 minutes.

  2. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, red pepper, and tomato paste; continue simmering over medium heat.

  3. Add in the cumin, chili, tamarind paste, and brown sugar; stir to coat all the vegetables with the spices.

  4. Add the red and green lentils and pour in the water. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low, and let the soup simmer away for 25 minutes or until the lentils are cooked.

  5. Once the lentils are cooked, stir in the canned kidney beans and season with 2 teaspoons of salt.

  6. Remove the stew from the heat and allow to sit, covered, for another 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt or spices, if necessary.

  7. To make the stew using the pressure cooker, follow the same instructions up to step 4 and pressure-cook the lentils for 5 minutes.

  8. Serve warm stew over a whole grain or with a baked potato.

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