Red Lentils Masala with Spinach | Naturally Ella

Recipe originally posted on November 23rd, 2012. Last updated on October 18th, 2015.

SpicesMasala PasteRed Lentils Masala with Spinach Served with Brown Rice

I am always amazed at what inspiration come from the food blog community. There are wise words of wisdom, quirky anecdotes, and most of all, tons of amazing food. Every day I check out my favorite blogs, I find myself make notes on things I wants to try or ideas I may have.

When I saw Shanna’s Thai Chicken Curry, I knew I wanted to make something spicy and fragrant. I wanted a big dish of comfort and that’s exactly what I got. I did a bunch of searching and finally settled on adapting this Tikka Masalaย (obviously without the tikka!)

Variations for Lentil Masala

The pasteย definitelyย has a kick to it but it’s my favorite kind where you taste the spices and then the heat hits in the back of your mouth. Try and not be too intimidated with the long list of ingredients, I had everything in my cupboard (but can be found easily in the grocery store if you don’t have something on hand).

Lentils: I’ve expressed my love of lentils before but I rarely showcase red lentils. Red lentils turn to mush when cooked but I opted to stand and check every so often as I made this and pulled the dish before my lentils disappeared. Other lentils can be used but some extra liquid may be needed and the cooking time will lengthen.

Greens: I always have spinach on hand but kale or chard would easily work in place of the spinach (or use a mix of greens).

Use up the paste: Don’t worry if you have extra malasa paste to use. You can keep for later use in another round of this dish or make something like this egg skillet with masala potatoes.

Check out the comments: Many people have made this recipe and there’s quite a good bit of information in the comments below!

5.0 from 11 reviews
Red Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
  • Masala Paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2" piece ginger, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1/8 to 3 teaspoons red pepper flakes (see note)
  • 1 tablespoons 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 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. 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. Give a couple pulse 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 stir in stewed tomatoes and coconut milk. Stir together and bring to a boil.
  5. Add in lentils and reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring often, until lentils are tender, 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and fold in spinach.
  6. Serve with your favorite grain, extra cilantro, and a dollop of greek yogurt.
**Adapted from Martha Stewart/Jamie Oliver
*This dish can be fairly spicy. To cut back, reduce the red pepper.

Spicy Red Lentils Masala with Spinach