Spicy Lentil Snacks With Sesame Seeds


Almost three years ago, I found a recipe on a terrific vegetarian food blog called The Hungry Tiger, for something called lentil snacks, and blogged about it on Just Hungry. I didn't copy down the original recipe there, since it's my policy never to do that with someone else's recipe that's online (or indeed offline). Unfortunately it seems that The Hungry Tiger is temporarily or permanently offline (you get to a password-protected site now. Edit: Some readers have found a page that has the original recipe! See Notes below.). The recipe I use now for lentil snacks is probably quite different from the original, bu I have no way of checking.

Anyway, here is my current favorite version of lentil snacks, presented here on Just Bento because they are so well suited for non-Japanese bento lunches. This version is a bit hot-spicy inside, and coated in a mixture of sesame seeds and another type of seed called kalongi, nigella or black onion. They freeze well, or can hold in the refrigerator for a few days, and are a great vegan protein item that even a die-hard omnivore can love.

Recipe: Spicy Lentil Snacks With Sesame Seeds

Makes about 30 golf ball sized balls, each about 45 calories

  • 2 cups (440ml) uncooked red lentils or dal
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp. red chili pepper flakes, or to taste
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sesame seeds and nigella/kalongi/black onion seeds (optional)

Rinse the lentils, and put in a pan with enough water to come up to about 2cm / 1 inch above the lentils. Add 1 tsp. of salt. Bring up to a boil, then lower to a simmer; cook until the lentils are tender and mushy, about 15-20 minutes. Drain off any excess water.

In the meantime, put the chopped onions, garlic, spices and olive oil in a frying pan. Let it just barely simmer over a low heat until the mixture is a golden brown, and the onions are softened. Add the brown rice near the end.

Mix everything together and let cool until you can handle it. At this point, the mixture should resemble a thick, almost dry paste that you can gather up with your fingers and form into balls. If it's too wet, cook the mixture over a very low heat until some moisture evaporates. If it's too dry and falls apart, add a little water until it forms a paste.

Heat up an oven to 180°C / 360°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon baking liner.

Make ready a plate with mixed sesame seeds and nigella seeds (a ratio of about 2 to 1 is good). Form the lentil mixture into small balls. Dip lightly into a bowl of water, then roll in the seed mixture. (You can omit the seeds if you prefer too.)

Put the balls on the lined baking sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes or until the surface is a bit crispy.

You can eat them as-is, or with a yogurt dipping sauce (use a soy yogurt to keep this vegan). See the old post for a recipe. Or, you can use the yogurt sauce/dressing used in Bento 58.


The original recipe called for the addition of bulgur wheat for texture, but I've used brown rice instead. This makes these lentil snacks gluten-free.

As noted in the original post, only red or hulled lentils will do here. Green lentils will be too hard and will not have the correct texture. Hulled lentils do have less fiber than unhulled, but are still a great source of protein. Some fiber is added back with the brown rice.

[Edit:] The original Hungry Tiger recipe is on the revived web site.

Last modified: 
11 Jun 2019 - 06:19

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