Red Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce

It's been a cold and rainy weekend here so far - fall has definitely arrived. With the falling temperatures and the cloudy skies I have been craving warm and comforting foods. This recipe for red lentils in a masala sauce fits the bill perfectly. Tender red lentils in a thick and spicy tomato sauce finished off with spinach, cilantro and coconut milk. This may not be your traditional fall dish, but why not give something new a try. It's healthy and delicious, perfect for curling up on the couch with and listening to the rain falling. 

I had to adjust the original recipe to fit the ingredients I had on hand and it turned out deliciously. It's not a difficult dish at all. Once you mix up your spice mixture all you need to do is sauté some onions and garlic, add the spices followed by tomatoes and lentils and cook until the flavors have melded and the lentils are tender. Red lentils tend to turn to mush when cooked, but for this recipe you keep an eye on them and finish the dish before they completely disintegrate. Finished it off with a few handfuls of spinach and some creamy and delicious coconut milk. Spoon into a bowl over rice, or eat on it's own like a stew. It's filling and satisfying in whatever form you choose.

Red Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce
Adapted from Naturally Ella

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam marsala
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1⁄3 cup packed cilantro leaves ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14 ounce can whole (or diced) tomatoes
  • 1/2 can full fat, unsweetened full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup (~190 grams) red lentils
  • 3-4 handfuls spinach 

In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, coriander, ginger, cayenne, paprika, garam marsala and salt. Set aside.

In a large skillet or sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent and just beginning to brown, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in the spice mixture and stir to coat the onions. Add the tomato paste and stir again to evenly mix. Cook for a few minutes to heat the spices and tomato paste, then add in the tomatoes and coconut milk. Stir together and bring to a boil. 

Add in lentils and cilantro leaves and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring often (they tend to stick to the bottom of the pan), until lentils are tender, 20-­25 minutes. Fold in spinach and then remove the pan from heat.

Garnish with more cilantro, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.