Red Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce
Author: Erin Alderson
  • Masala Paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 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
  • Lentils
  • 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
  1. To make paste, toast cumin and coriander seeds in skillet until fragrant. Use a mortar and pestle (or a spice grinder) to grind spices.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Stir in masala paste and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add stewed tomatoes and coconut milk. Stir together and bring to a boil.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Stock up: get the pantry ingredients you will need: coconut milk, stewed tomatoes, red lentils, garam masala

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Link: Adapted from Martha Stewart/Jamie Oliver
Recipe by Naturally Ella at