• Taylor Dean

Masala Dabba Red Lentil Chili

This dish is very much inspired by Chef Atul Kochhar who via his instagram introduced me to these very unique spices like mango powder and black cardamom.

My first introduction to this chef was a invitation from a friend of mine to try and create his Rajma Chawal Kidney Bean dish from his instagram. The first attempt was lacking in a few ingredients like fenugreek leaves that I had to order online from Amazon. After a few attempts I am happy to report I feel very satisfied and greatly impressed with this variation and feel confident and very excited to share it with you.

This recipe is very much adapted with a few exceptions like the use of red lentils, and coconut sugar, however you can use red kidney beans and you can call this same dish Rajma Chawal. Or maybe not??

I would never dare to call myself a expert in Indian Cuisine, but I'm a big fan and enjoy it so much. I'm loving the journey learning and feel like I am in some small way traveling by endeavoring to use these foreign and fragrant spices.

Whatever you call this dish.. Just know IT is DELICIOUS.

I know many reading this if not all will have easy access to these spices in your spice cabinet. I know because I had none of these spices. So I am excited to engage those interested enough in ordering these spices online and recreating this dish at home.

The flavors will trully knock your socks off. And guess what this is VEGAN!!! I suggest ghee in the recipe, but coconut oil is what I used. And its a party of flavors.

I dare you to get the spices and make this. You'll be so glad you did.

Ingredients you will need

2 small white or yellow onions

7 large tomatoes

1 can of crushed red tomatoes

4-5 tablespoons finely chopped or grated ginger

8 cloves of garlic

5-6 cups of water or vegetable stock

2 black cardamom pods

3 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil

1.5 tablespoons coriander powder

2 teaspoon mango powder

2 tablespoon garam masala

1.5 teaspoon chili powder

½ cup fenugreek leaves

2.5 cups of red lentils

1 tablespoon of coconut sugar

salt to taste


In a food processor, blender, or nutra bullet etc.. whatever you have..

1.) Blend the onions with 2.5 tablespoons of the ginger (half the ginger for the recipe), 4 cloves of garlic (half the garlic for the recipe) into a paste. Set aside.

In the same food processor/ blender add the fresh tomatoes and blend into a smooth sauce.

2.) In a large pot add dry red lentils, water or veg stock, blended tomato mixture, the black cardamom pods, the blended garlic and onion mixture, combine everything together in the pot and let cook for 30 mins on medium- low heat.

3.) Once the lentils come to a boil in the water add a lid and cook on medium low for the rest of the time.

Note: If the lentils have absorbed all the water turn off heat to prevent burning or over cooking or add additional water or veg stock as needed until lentils are fully cooked they should be soft or even mushy. Just keep a eye on them and be sure to stir every 10 mins to help ingredients to combine and to assist the lentils breaking down.

While the lentils are cooking .... We are going to sautée our spices with ginger and garlic for about 4-5 mins.

Note: (I recommend using cast iron or any pan with a good bottom this will prevent the spices, and garlic and ginger from overcooking)

1.) In a separate pan heated to medium -low

Add the coconut oil, remaining chopped ginger and garlic, and the following spices...coriander powder, mango powder, garam masala, and chili powder

Sautee spices on a medium- low heat for 3 -5 mins until toasted stirring continuously to prevent the garlic and spices from burning.

!!!!Do not walk away from the stove while toasting the spices!!!!

2.) When done toasting the spices add 1 small 12oz can of crushed tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar, stir well to combine and continue cooking on low heat for additional 3-4 mins stirring constantly.

3.) Lastly add ½ cup dried fenugreek leaves to tomato/ spice mixture combine and turn heat down to low or off.

Taste mixture and add salt or coconut sugar as needed.

4.) Combine the toasted spice/ and tomato mixture into the pot of cooking lentils and stir to combine.

5.) When lentils are fully cooked serve over cooked rice or eat with naan and steamed veg and enjoy.

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