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Cuba-Caribe Lentils

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

I created this recipe for Hola Montana a few months back. I added my homemade coconut milk recipe because, coming from someone who grew up drinking fresh coconut-extracted milk, it is hard to go for a canned version. Once you try my recipe, you will feel the same. The milk tastes even better if you get a ripe coconut, grate the meat in a food processor, and use the fresh meat and any water in the coconut.

Caribbean Style Lentils- Coconut milk is an excellent addition to anything Caribbean. You can use ordinary Thai coconut milk, or you can express the milk manually. We included the recipe as we prefer extracted coconut milk free of preservatives, additives, and thickeners.

We use beluga lentils because we love their dark color, but feel free to use any other varietal except the crimson or yellow lentils, as they will dissolve.


Serves 4

1 cup dried lentils rinsed and cleaned 12 ounces coconut milk. Do not use the light version if using canned milk( recipe above).

12 ounces water 1 TBSP. Olive Oil

1 garlic clove, mashed

¼ cup sweet onion, minced

¼ cup tomatoes, chopped

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon cayenne

¼ cup raisins

¼ cup peanuts, crushed, as garnish

¼ cup cilantro, chopped, as garnish

1 TBSP coconut flakes, as garnish

1 cup fried sweet plantains as garnish (recipe below) Julienne carrots as garnish

Ingredients for the Coconut Milk 1 ½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut 2 ½ cups of warm water

Directions for the Coconut Milk 1. In a blender, combine the coconut and 2 cups of warm water. 2. Let stand until the coconut softens, about 1 minute. 3. Blend on high until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. 4. Strain through a fine mesh strainer set over a large measuring cup or medium bowl, pressing on the solids; you should have cups, 12 ounces, of strained coconut milk. 5. Discard the solids; set the coconut milk aside. Directions for the Plantains

1. Use only an over-ripe plantain. Its skin should be black.

2. Slice it in half, lenght-wise, and half again. Cube all halves.

3. Take a Dutch oven and add 1 cup of canola or grape seed oil.

4. When oil is very hot, add the plantain cubes. Because of its sweetness, it will cook very fast, so keep your eyes on the pot.

5. In a paper-towel line platter, add the plantain cubes.

6. Use as garnish over the cooked lentils.

Directions for the lentils

1. Heat a 4-quart pot at medium heat. Add the oil.

2. When the oil is hot, add the onion and the tomatoes, sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and combine with the onion.

3. Season with cumin, cayenne, and a teaspoon of salt.

4. Add the lentils and combine with spices and onion mix.

5. Add the coconut milk and the water. Taste and, if needed, season to your liking.

6. Lower the heat, add the raisins and cook for 20 minutes.

7. Serve in a bowl and top with peanuts, plantains, carrots, coconut flakes, and cilantro.

8. Enjoy over jasmine or basmati rice, and always in good company

Kuddos to one of our lentil fans, Lauren, @ldirk7, Instagram, who sent us a photo and a review of our recipe.

We are so grateful, we asked Lauren to help us with testing the recipes of our forthcoming cookbook, The Lentil Table, Stories, Recipes, & Guide for Throwing a Big Bash Honoring Montana-Grown Lentil and Strengthening Community

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