You’re going to love this recipe for masala lentils from Richa Hingle’s new book, Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. Serve the masala lentils with rice for a satisfying vegan lunch or dinner.
I’ve been following Richa’s blog, Vegan Richa, for many years now. With gorgeous photography and innovative recipes, Richa keeps me tuning in regularly.
Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen
So I knew her cookbook, Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen, would be something special.
Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen features 150 vegan recipes that run the gamut from breakfast through dessert with stops along the way for flatbreads, curries, and dals.
The recipes put the focus on simple, whole plant foods. That makes the book very budget-friendly and especially nice during summer months when my refrigerator is overflowing in fresh produce.
She lets the inherent flavors of the beans and vegetables shine, and then heightens their flavors with seasonings and spices.
Using her cookbook has been a good excuse to get to some of those lesser used spices on my spice shelf. You know, the ones that I bought just knowing I would need them later, but have been lingering from disuse.
(Now, why did I buy that mango powder again…)
If you aren’t a spice collector like me, you may need to visit your local Indian market before you get started to pick up fenugreek seeds, asafetida, nigella seeds, and the like.
But don’t let that dissuade you. The results are worth it. And spices in Indian markets tend to be very inexpensive. Plus, it’s fun to widen your culinary language and learn something new.
The Indian restaurants in my town are a little lacking. So it’s so nice to have the tempting and full-bodied dishes I crave in my own kitchen. Plus, the variety of dishes in Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen far exceeds anything that I could find locally.
Recipes include veggie balls in Manchurian sauce, black gram fritters, sprouted mung bean curry, and mango curry tofu.
Here are some of the things I’ve made:
I have been really into chickpea flour pancakes (pudla) for the past 6 months or so. I love savory breakfasts, and chickpea flour pancakes are packed with pantry-friendly ingredients.
Even if I’ve just gotten home from a trip and my cupboard is sparse, there’s a good chance I can make chickpea pancakes. (Plus, the beauty of vegan recipes means that I’m not counting on perishable eggs or dairy as ingredients.)
Chickpea pancakes are substantive, filling, and flavorful.
What I like about the pudla in Richa’s cookbook is that it is thinner and lighter than many chickpea pancakes I make. I prefer pancakes with crisp edges. With this recipe, you get that brown crispness all over.
I’ve already made this recipe twice. I know it’s one I’ll come back to regularly.
I made mint cilantro chile chutney to go with them.
At restaurants, whenever the server comes to take the chutney tray away after appetizers, I often hide the cilantro chutney at the far end of the table, so that they can’t take it. I like to add a little dollop to everything.
However, the recipes I’ve tried in the past have been a bit of a letdown.
I was hesitant about this one, because it uses equal amounts of mint and cilantro. I like mint, but only in small doses (i.e. a few leaves on vegan banh mi or muddled in the perfect gin and tonic.) So I was worried this would be mint overload.
I needn’t have worried. The cilantro still takes center stage, but with the mint rounding out the edges. With a pinch of black salt and mango powder, this cilantro chutney has all of that craveable chutney flavor and more.
I could easily say this is my favorite version ever – in a restaurant or at home.
I followed the variation of adding peanuts to the chutney for a thicker viscosity. I liked how it added bulk without overpowering it with nutty flavor.
I’d gotten a big bag of spinach at the farmers market. I was able to use all 4 cups in this Tofu in Spinach Curry (palak tofu). This is a vegan version of palak paneer with tofu standing in for cheese.
The tofu is browned first with spices. Then a smooth spinach curry mixture is added to the pan.
The recipe took no time at all to make, was packed with good-for-you ingredients, and is definitely one I’ll be making again.
Finally, these masala lentils are an inexpensive and quick lentil dish that is brimming with flavor and even better the next day after the spices have had a chance to meld.
With cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, fenugreek, paprika, pepper, and sriracha, there’s a lot going on here. But it’s not in a way that overpowers. It all comes together harmoniously for a tasty lentil dish.
To save time, I served it with uttapam from the frozen section of Trader Joe’s and roasted broccoli. The whole meal was ready and on the table in under a half an hour.
(Update: The uttapam isn’t sold at Trader Joe’s anymore. However, here are my 30 favorite vegan Trader Joe’s products.)
It would also be delicious with mixed vegetable ginger & turmeric rice on the side.
Thank you to Richa and Vegan Heritage Press for generously offering to share the recipe for Masala lentils.
Masala Lentils (Sabut Masoor)
- 3/4 cup brown lentils washed and drained
- 2 cups water
- 2 to 3 teaspoons safflower or other neutral oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red or white onion
- 6 cloves garlic chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek leaves or 1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons sriracha or other hot sauce, to taste
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 1/2 cups chopped tomato
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro for garnish
- 1 Tablespoon vegan butter optional
- Combine the lentils with 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Partially cover and cook over medium heat until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
- While the lentils are cooking, make the tempering. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes.
- In a blender, combine the garlic, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, fenugreek, paprika, nutmeg, black pepper, sriracha, and 2 tablespoons of water. Blend to combine well. Add this paste to the onions in the skillet. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and salt, and cook until the tomatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Mash the larger tomato pieces.
- Add the tempering to the lentils. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and spice. Garnish with cilantro and vegan butter, if using, and serve hot.