As you might know, I’m definitely trying to incorporate more plant-based eating in my diet in 2020, and I think a lot of people are on the same page. There are so many benefits to consciously including more plants in our diets: health, environmental AND budget!
These Tikka Masala Lentils are a dish that I’ve been making for years. I started making it in college because lentils are one of the cheapest forms of protein you can buy, which was great as a broke college kid! But this dish has stuck around because not only is it so affordable, it’s also insanely delicious and satisfying.
I’ve made quite a few renditions of this meal over the years, but this version is my favorite. It uses classic tikka masala spices to really build a depth of flavor that is just so good. If you don’t have the spices listed, I would highly recommend stocking up. They are all very versatile and will last you awhile, so they’re worth the purchase!
Here’s a few of my other favorite ways to use them up:
Cumin- perfect for seasoning any roasted vegetable, especially breakfast potatoes! It’s also great on chicken and beef. Definitely one that you need in your pantry.
Paprika- again, can use this on pretty much any roasted vegetable. It’s extremely versatile, I also use it on my breakfast potatoes and in so many recipes that use chicken. It’s great in soups!
Curry Powder- I love using curry powder on roasted chickpeas and simply combining with a can of coconut milk for an easy chicken, tofu or shrimp curry dish.
Turmeric- I know I sound like a broken record here, but turmeric is also a go-to for roasting any vegetables! I like to combine turmeric with black pepper whenever I use it for maximum absorption of the turmeric.
Cinnamon- I use cinnamon all the time. I love that it’s so versatile and can be used in sweet dishes, like my overnight oats, or savory dishes like this tikka masala! I also love adding a few shakes on my coffee grounds before brewing for a really nice flavor.
Tikka masala Lentils
This recipe starts with the perfect trifecta: ginger, garlic and onion. In my opinion, there’s just no better smell than the three of those! Once they have softened, I like to add in my spice mixture and toast for just a minute, stirring frequently. This can help bring out some of the flavor of the spices.
Then, I add in the tomato paste and stir to coat. Little hack: I like to buy the tubes of tomato paste from Trader Joe’s, rather than the cans, because they last longer and I can just keep it in the fridge and pull it out whenever I need it!
After the tomato paste has been combined with the ginger/garlic/onion/spices mixture, the lentils can be added to the pot along with the liquid. I prefer to use one can coconut milk and then broth for the remaining liquid, because the coconut milk gives such a nice creamy texture. You could even do 2 cans coconut milk, but you just want to make sure that your lentils to liquid ratio is 1:2.
Once the lentils and liquid have been brought to a gentle boil and stirred, I turn the temperature down to medium-low, cover and let cook according to the package instructions on the lentils, usually about 20 minutes. Be sure to stir every few minutes to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. The lentils will start to absorb the liquid.
When the lentils are done cooking, I like to add frozen peas. I just eyeball it, but you can add as little or much as you’d like. Another alternative would be to add in handfuls of spinach and allow to wilt. You’d be surprised how many greens you can fit into this meal!
The whole pot gets topped off with the juice of a lemon, and then it’s ready! In my opinion, it’s best served over rice with a hefty side of naan. Sooo good!
Tikka Masala Lentils
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp ginger, minced
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups red lentils, sorted & rinsed
- 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 1 lemon
- rice & naan for serving
- Heat a large pot on medium heat for a few minutes. Add in the avocado oil and continue to heat for 30 seconds.
- In a small bowl, combine the cumin, paprika, curry powder and cinnamon.
- Add the onion, garlic and ginger to the pot, stirring to soften for about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste to the pot, stirring to combine with the onion, garlic and ginger mixture. Add in the spice mixture, mixing to combine.
- Pour in the red lentils, coconut milk, broth, salt & pepper. Stir well to combine.
- Bring to a gentle boil, turn down to medium-low, and cover. Allow to cook according to lentil package instructions, about 20 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning on the bottom.
- Once lentils are cooked and have absorbed most of the liquid, add in the frozen peas and allow to cook for a few minutes until heated.
- Stir in lemon juice and serve over rice with a side of naan.