Chicken and Lentils with Warm Spices

This recipe is reminiscent of an Indian daal, but with chicken and veggies added. If you like hearty dishes with plenty of fiber, plus exotic spices, you will want to give this recipe a try.

I was inspired to make this dish by an email I found in my spam folder from Serious Eats. The original recipe calls for poaching a whole chicken in liquid. While this might be a great plan, I already had some leftover roast chicken and some homemade chicken broth. So I simplified the process by using my leftovers.

I cooked my lentils in a crockpot. I like this method because I can walk away and feel relatively sure that nothing is going to burn. (I burned so many dinners when my girls were little that my younger daughter actually prefers her food burnt to this day.) You can alternatively make this dish on your stovetop. In that case, you will need to reduce the cooking time by about half.

The original recipe called for frying onions and tomatoes until "jammy" to make a topping for the lentils. I did have fresh tomatoes, but I chose to use white mushrooms instead. You could always use all three, or whichever you happen to have on hand.

I love the combination of lentils and farro, so I added a half cup of this chewy whole grain. The original recipe didn't call for any grains, so you could simply leave them out. Or you could substitute barley or brown rice.

As you have probably figured out, I tend to use a recipe as a starting point, but I never feel I need to stick to it. (My husband just shakes his head and holds his tongue...)


1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
1 cup homemade chicken stock (or store bought!)
1 cup water (more if needed)

1/2 cup quick-cooking farro (from Trader Joe's)
1 bay leaf

2 TB coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon coriander
dash of cayenne pepper (more if you like your food HOT)

1 cup leftover chicken meat, diced
1/2 cup leftover chicken skin, diced (optional)

1 large onion, diced
6 large mushrooms, sliced
More coconut oil
1 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In large crockpot, add lentils along with broth and water. Do not season with salt. Cover with lid. Cook lentils on low for at least 2 hours, or until soft. There should still be plenty of liquid in the bottom of the pot. If not, add more broth or water as well as the farro and bay leaf. Continue cooking on low for another 30 minutes, or until farro is soft.

While farro is cooking, warm up the coconut oil in a cast iron skillet over low heat. Add the spices and cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Do not burn! Add the spices to the lentil and farro mixture.  Also add the chicken meat and skin. Stir well and replace lid.

While mixture continues to cook, clean out skillet and add more coconut oil. Fry onions and mushrooms until all the liquid has evaporated from the pan. The consistency should be jammy.

When lentils and farro are completely cooked, add onion mixture to the crockpot. (Alternatively, you can top each serving with this mixture.) Stir well and season with plenty of salt and black pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve over fresh spinach leaves with Greek yogurt and chopped fresh tomatoes on top. Or serve any way you want! Makes about 4-6 hearty servings.