Khoresh Kadoo-e-Tond (Spicy Courgette & Lentil Stew)

A wholesome and delicious plant-based version of a Persian stew, made with tender red lentils in a spicy tomato sauce and fried courgettes.

The Vegan Alternative

Khoresh Kadoo is a stew usually made with courgettes and either lamb, beef or chicken as the protein element. This stew felt like it would respond well to being meat-free and my experiment turned out to be a total treat. The main differences are; I have added chillies for a little heat and replaced the meat with red lentils. The resulting dish still has the comforting savoury flavours of the traditional stew but with a glow of plant-based goodness.

What are the Ingredients?

  • Vegetable oil: used to fry the courgettes and to cook the stew.
  • Courgettes: use either green or yellow. In order to really enhance the flavours of this dish, fry the courgette before adding them to the stew. For the health conscious, you can roast them with a drizzle of oil in the oven. Either way, the courgette can be prepared up to a few days in advance and refrigerated until you are ready to cook the stew.
  • Red Lentils: the protein element of the stew. Red lentils cook very quickly by comparison to other lentils and don’t need to be separately cooked or soaked prior to adding to a dish.
  • Onion and Garlic: fresh aromatics to add flavour.
  • Chilli, Turmeric and Saffron: spices to enhance the flavour of the by giving it a smokey, earthy and spicy profile.
  • Tomatoes, Passata and Tomato Purée: used to make the gravy for the stew.
  • Water or Vegetable Broth: the cooking liquid for the lentils and used to make the sauce
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: used to balance the flavours.
  • Salt and Pepper: to season.
  • Fresh Mint: to garnish and to add flavour to the stew.

How to Serve Khoresh Kadoo-e-Tond

This dish is best served with rice such as kateh or chelow. If you want to fully commit to the wholesome side of life, brown rice is also an excellent accompaniment. 

Khoresh Kadoo-e-Tond

Spicy courgette and red lentil stew
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 40 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Iranian
Keyword: vegetarian, vegan, lentils, courgettes, chillies
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer


  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil (sounds punchy but most of it is used to fry the courgettes - see notes above re: oven roasting courgettes as an alternative)
  • 3 courgettes
  • 1 large onion (finely diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 500 ml passata
  • 150 g red lentils
  • 500 ml water
  • 1/8 tsp saffron (bloomed in 2 tbsp of water)
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 10 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • Salt and pepper (to season)
  • Chopped fresh mint (to garnish)


Prepare and Cook the Courgettes

  • Take a large frying pan and add 4 tbsps oil. Place over medium-high heat.
  • Halve courgettes and then slice - 2cm thick. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on slices and fry the courgettes on each side until golden and soft. Remove courgettes and put on a paper towel to soak up excess oil.

Make the Stew

  • Take a large casserole dish or saucepan with a lid (about 3.5 litres capacity) and place over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp oil, add onion and fry until golden, stirring now and again.
  • Add garlic, turmeric and chilli, followed by tomato purée and stir. Once it glistens add red lentils and stir until evenly distributed.
  • Add passata, 250 ml of the water, bloomed saffron and fresh lemon juice. Stir and season to taste.
  • Once stew starts to boil, add the remaining 250 ml of water and stir, lower heat to allow to slowly simmer. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Add more water if the stew looks too thick.
  • Add fried courgettes and gently submerge in stew. Scatter halved tomatoes evenly across the stew, place the lid on the pan and simmer for no less than 45 mins. 

Serve the Khoresh Kadoo-e-Tond

  • Ladel stew into a serving dish and garnish with chopped fresh mint and coriander. Serve with rice and / or flatbreads.

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  1. saffronandherbs

    Hi there! Thank you for your message. I use 3 supermarket size medium to large courgettes so not massive. You can alway freeze any excess fried courgettes, which is what my mum and I do in the summer as we have an allotment and grow our own too. x

  2. Susan

    I grow my own “courgettes”. Curious how big of one are we talking about? They range in size so much! Thank you. This looks delish

  3. saffronandherbs

    Hi Emma. I have eaten it with chicken and lamb and it was delicious. I’ve not tried beef but I’m sure it would also be delicious but use a stewing cut. I would recommend sealing the meat first by frying and then leaving it to one side. Then at step 6 adding the meat instead of the lentils. Hope that helps and do let me know how it goes x

  4. Emma Wood

    This looks lovely. If I wanted to replace the lentils With meat what would you recommend?

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