Vegan Lentil Masala

By Alexandra Caspero on October 1, 2018

I’ve got an easy weeknight recipe for you this morning, vegan lentil masala. This is the dish that I make when I want something comforting, delicious and pretty easy to put together.

A pretty basic recipe but one that I consider to be a back-pocket recipe. Something to keep when you’re not quite sure what to make for dinner and you don’t have time to go to the store.

Sometimes I serve this with chopped greens stirred in, sometimes I’ll make a salad to go alongside but most of the time I eat it just like this. Creamy lentils with rice, maybe some naan if I have it in the freezer. It’s my kind of comfort food and exactly what I’m craving these days as warm days turn to fall.

vegan lentil masalavegan lentil masala

A quick note if you are new to cooking lentils, I call for green lentils for this recipe as they tend to hold their shape better than brown lentils. If you can’t find green (or French), then sub in brown. However, do not use red lentils as they will break down and you’re lentils will be more like soup. Delicious, but not the same recipe and you won’t get the same results. (If you want a similar red lentil dish, make this.)

I’m also using cashew cream because I’ve always got cashews in my fridge and it takes less than a few minutes to make a fresh batch of cream. I don’t even bother soaking them anymore, I just pour hot water over raw cashews to soak for ~2 minutes, then drain and blend. It takes a little longer to do so in my Blend Tec, but it’s worth it to me not to have to think about soaking the cashews ahead of time.

If you don’t want to use cashew cream, then any other ‘cream’ will work, like unsweetened non-dairy creamer or regular heavy cream. You could also use plain yogurt. I suppose you don’t really need any cream, but I think something is missing without it and the cream helps balance the spice.

vegan lentil masala

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Vegan Lentil Masala

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: main, dinner, vegan, glutenfree
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian

Description

Vegan Lentil Masala! This lentil dish is so delicious and SO healthy! Vegan and gluten-free and perfect for weeknights. Lentils in a creamy masala sauce.


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: main, dinner, vegan, glutenfree
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: main, dinner, vegan, glutenfree
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup green lentils
  • 1/3 cup cashew cream (see notes)
  • 1 cup white rice (or brown rice, but will need more time to cook), rinsed in cold water.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lime, zest and juice, divided
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add in salt and pepper along with the spices. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  2. Add the tomato paste and cook 1-2 minutes, or until dark red and fragrant.
  3. Add the lentils and 3 cups of water, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally about 30 minutes or until lentils are tender and most of the water has been absorbed. Stir in the cashew cream and 1/2 of the lime juice and season to taste.
  4. While the lentils are cooking, bring 2 cups of water in a separate saucepan to a boil. Add the rice, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover, cooking until rice is tender. When rice is tender, fork to fluff, then add in the rest of the lime juice, zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro.
  5. To serve, divide the rice among 4 bowls and top with lentil masala mixture.

Notes

*For cashew cream: puree 1/2 cup raw cashews and 1/2 cup water together in a blender until creamy and thick. Depending on the power of your blender, this may take 2 minutes. Set aside, you might not need all the cashew cream.

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Annie
      October 10, 2018 AT 7:43 am

      Amazing! Such a simple recipe but WOW the flavors are out of this world. Thanks for another amazing recipe!