Mexican Oaxaca-style lentils: Lentejas oaxaqueñas

articles Food & Cuisine Recipes

Karen Hursh Graber

This spicy-sweet, meatless main dish is traditional Oaxacan Lenten fare. The combination of spices with fruit is characteristic of southern Mexican cooking. Lentils are one of the fastest-cooking legumes and do not require soaking in advance.


  • 1 pound lentils
  • 8 cups water
  • 10 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium white onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 plantains, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 thick slices fresh pineapple, chopped
  • 2-3 roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • salt to taste

Place the lentils in a large pot with the water, half the garlic and half the onion. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Season with salt to taste.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and saute the remaining onions and garlic until the onion begins to soften. Add the plantains, pineapple and tomatoes and continue to cook until the plantains soften.

Add the spices, lentils, and some of their cooking liquid. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens, adding more cooking liquid as necessary.

Serve in bowls, garnished with fried slices of plantain if desired. Serves 6-8.

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Published or Updated on: January 1, 2006 by Karen Hursh Graber © 2006
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