2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into pieces
1/8 to 3 teaspoons red pepper flakes (see note)
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garam marsala
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons peanut or other nut oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup packed cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup masala paste
1 cup stewed tomatoes
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup red lentils
2 handfuls spinach
1/2 to 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
To make paste, toast cumin and coriander seeds in skillet until fragrant. Use a mortar and pestle (or a spice grinder) to grind spices.
In a small food processor, add ginger and pulse until broken into small pieces. Add red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, garam marsala, and salt. Pulse a couple more times to incorporate. Next, add nut oil, tomato paste, and cilantro leaves. Pulse until paste forms and everything is well incorporated. Set aside.
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Melt coconut oil and add diced onion, cooking until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add in minced garlic and cook for one more minute.
Stir in masala paste and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add stewed tomatoes and coconut milk. Stir together and bring to a boil.
Add in lentils and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring often, until lentils are tender, 20-25 minutes. If liquid has absorbed but lentils are still not tender, add 1/2 cup of vegetable broth and cook until lentils are tender. Remove from heat and fold in spinach.
Serve with your favorite grain, extra cilantro, and a dollop of plain greek yogurt.
Tips & Tricks: I recommend making this dish once with the minimum amount of red pepper flakes in the masala paste and adding more crushed red pepper before serving if desired. The paste, with 3 teaspoons of red pepper flakes, can be really spicy.