(Vegan) Red Lentil and Spinach Tikka Masala

December 9, 2016

(Vegan) Red Lentil and Spinach Tikka Masala

 As you may have noticed, I’m not the kind of person who just throws together things in the kitchen without at least a map, a compass, 1001 enthusiastic reviews on AllRecipes or an old friend’s sworn solemn oath in written from, that a certain recipe is 100% guaranteed to blow my socks off.
Sure, I’ll make numerous adjustments while I work on something to meet my personal preferences, but aside from grilled chicken, eggs, and casseroles, I rarely go on my own intuition.
Because you see, my intuition has often led me to all kind of kitchen disasters: a strawberry pie that had exploded in the oven, a caldo verde that looked like vomit, Crock-Pot meat that was cooked to shoe leather, etc…
So, as you see, these days I tend to use recipes, possibly true and tried recipes.

(Vegan) Red Lentil and Spinach Tikka Masala

Which brings me to this Red Lentil and Spinach Tikka Masala.
Not long ago (9 months back to be precise) I perfected a recipe for Chickpea Tikka Masala.
I love it, you guys love it.
No, let me rephrase that you guys LOVE IT so much that it has quickly become one of the most popular recipes on this blog.
So I decided the time was ripe for another Tikka Masala dish.

(Vegan) Red Lentil and Spinach Tikka Masala

Enter red lentils.
I still don’t understand why people call them red, since they are actually orange, and turn yellow when you cook them.
Anyways, I love them because being smaller and thinner than plain greenish-brown lentils, they bring cooking time down to like 20 minutes, without need to soak in water.
I always have a big bag of red lentils in my pantry. They’re cheap, versatile and they make for beautiful food.
And guess what? Red lentils are perfect with Tikka Masala.
They have a mild, sweet flavor, and an almost creamy texture that works wonderfully with the gravy.
And since they cook so fast, this dish comes together in 30 minutes flat.
Make the gravy, add the lentils, and cook until they’re ready.
I added some fresh spinach for a pop of color and goodness. 
That's it!

(Vegan) Red Lentil and Spinach Tikka Masala

Spicy, fragrant, and rich.
If you want a big dish of comfort and healthy food, that’s exactly what this (Vegan) Red Lentil and Spinach Tikka Masala is.
This recipe has become my favorite lentil dish, hope you’ll like it as much as I do.

Red Lentil and Spinach Tikka Masala                                                                                             Print this recipe!

Serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon Garam Masala
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 can full-fat coconut milk (I used BPA-free Natural Value)
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked over
2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fine grain salt
Fresh chopped cilantro for garnish


Heat oil in a large saucepan (or skillet) over medium-high heat.
Add onions, a pinch of salt, and sauté until translucent, about 6 minutes.
Add garlic and sauté for 1 more minute. Add ginger and spices and sauté for 30 seconds.
Add diced tomatoes and coconut milk and give a good stir.
Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and puree with the help of an immersion blender (alternatively you can puree in batches in a blender — be careful not to splatter the hot liquid onto yourself though.)
Add lentils, and salt, cover, and cook on low until tender, about 20 minutes, stirring every so often.
At this point if the liquid has absorbed but the lentils are still not tender, add ½ cup of water and cook on low until lentils are tender (don’t overcook them though or they will become mushy.)
Remove from the heat and fold in chopped spinach.
Take a taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro and serve.

Nutrition facts
One serving yields 333 calories, 17 grams of fat, 33 grams of carbs, and 11 grams of protein.


  1. I've had plenty of disasters in the crockpot, mostly when the timing is off - 8 hours for chicken breast? Never again ;-)

    I rarely cook lentils at home, not sure why - this recipe goes for my Pinterest files right away

    haven't "seen" you much in the blogosphere, but it's always nice to get notification of a new post from you!

  2. It's almost dinner time and I feel so hungry just looking at the photos and reading the recipe. I don't have the ingredients right now though... maybe tomorrow night. I'm definitely making this though.

    - Charmaine

  3. I'd like to make this but approximately how many ounces coconut milk in one of your cans?
    Thanks, Anne

  4. Click on the link and you'll see 13.5 oz

  5. Hi, I am already famous for making a good tikka masala thanks to your chikpea tikka masala recipe :) thank you for that! And now I'm very surprised that you know calso verde! If this is the portuguese soup that you mean. How come you know it?

  6. Made this last night, and oh my goodness so good! Love that the recipe was pretty simple with straight-forward ingredients I already had on hand. Definitely adding this to my regular rotation!

  7. I've made it, and your tikka masala is great! Full in flavour, great in taste. I've only switched coconut milk for 30% fat cream and seasoned it with ground, smoked paprika.

  8. I've made it, and your tikka masala is great! Full in flavour, great in taste. I've only switched coconut milk for 30% fat cream and seasoned it with ground, smoked paprika.

  9. Is that a 12 inch piece of ginger or 1-2inch piece of ginger?

  10. Oh man... so good! This is so brightly flavorful and perfectly balanced. Definitely making this again, thanks for the recipe!

  11. This sounds and looks amazing! Has anyone made this in a crockpot? I am thinking of tossing everything, but the spinach in before I leave the house. I'll toss the spinach in at the last five minutes. I am curious to how long it would take though...

  12. I have made this three times and love it. However,I find I have to cook my lentils longer than 20 min. to get them softened and then a few are still a little hard. Am I doing something wrong? Besides that I love this dish!

    1. I think it just depends on the quality of the lentils. BTW I'm really glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  13. This is the first vegan recipe I've searched for (new to this) and it was surprisingly good. I've never tasted lentils before, but it will definitely not be the last time I make this! To track macros while I'm getting to know this new way of eating, can you tell me how much "a serving" is? Thank you.

  14. Thank you for the great recipe!

  15. I loved this recipe! The coconut milk makes it perfect. thanks and keep posting great ideas!