Masala Red Lentils with Chard

Our house is filled with Christmas cookies right now.  I could banish them and insist on eating only healthy stuff, but honestly, it’s a couple weeks of my life and I LOVE this time of year and all the sugary goodness that comes with it.

Ellie has gotten it in her head that if she points at something sweet and nods vigorously, we’ll give it to her.  I’m not sure where she got this idea.

Oh wait, this might have something to do with it.


This is not a normal occurrence, really.  She usually eats bananas and sweet potatoes and plain yogurt and pears.

I ended my week of laziness with a slooow 22 mile bike ride yesterday.  I was loving life and wondering why I stopped cycling…and then around mile 7 my rear end reminded me that it was ridiculous to think I could just go out and breeze through a ride like this. OW. My plan for 70.3 training is to just do what I want as long as I’m running, swimming, and cycling at least twice a week.  Today I ran a fairly uncomfortable 4.4 miles after work.  Weird that beer and cookies and being lazy for a week doesn’t make you feel light on your feet.

But I listened to a podcast and someone decorated a tree along the path so it wasn’t a completely miserable experience.

This is totally NOT one of those back on track healthy recipes. It’s pretty rich, but the flavor is complex and warm and I made a giant batch of it just so I can eat it for lunch all week.  This is a scaled up recipe from the original and I used chard instead of spinach.  I made saffron rice to serve alongside it and it was a satisfying, delicious meal.

Masala Red Lentils with Chard


    Masala Paste:
  • 3 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 3 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp peeled, minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • Lentils:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or coconut oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • masala paste (from above)
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can coconut milk
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 3 cups chopped rainbow chard


  1. To make the masala paste, toast cumin and coriander seeds in dry skillet until fragrant. Use a mortar and pestle (or a spice grinder) to grind spices.
  2. In a small food processor, combine the spices, salt, and ginger pulse a few times. Then add the oil, tomato paste, and cilantro leaves. Pulse until paste forms and everything is well incorporated. Set aside.
  3. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat. Heat the oil until it shimmers and add the diced onion, cooking until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
  4. Stir in masala paste and cook for 1-2 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and coconut milk. Stir together and bring to a boil.
  5. Add thelentils and reduce heat to medium low. Cook, covered, stirring often, until lentils are nearly tender, 15-20 minutes. Stir in the chard and a cup of water if the lentils look a little dry and cook for another 10 minutes.

(slightly adapted from Naturally Ella)

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3 comments to Masala Red Lentils with Chard

  • The problem with toddlers is that they’re so visual. It’s hard to say no when they’re pointing at everything on the counter. We have to hide sweets from view.

  • This looks amazing. We’re in Tokyo at the moment and although the sushi/noodles etc are amazing, I’m kind of craving good old fashioned SF veggie food like lentils and chard. We’re back on Saturday – this will be dinner on Sunday, thank you.

  • I love this; it looks so hearty and delicious. One of the reasons I was intrigued is because it looks like something healthy that my own toddler would enjoy.

    Meanwhile though, I gave her her first bite of cookie yesterday. Big, wide, happy eyes. Whoops! :)

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