Lentil Risotto with Rainbow Chard and Carrots is a creamy, flavor packed main from Asha Shivakumar’s debut cookbook Masala & Meatballs. New to Indian cooking or looking to delve deeper? Asha’s new book Masala & Meatballs, Incredible Indian Dishes with An American Twist is packed with inspiration to tempt your culinary prowess. From Asha’s new book, with an easy risotto method, dinner is ready in about 45 minutes. vegan + gluten free
Broadening one’s palate comes from an array of life experiences. Having been raised in Texas, my Southern roots influenced my BBQ and TexMex cravings; flavors I still lean on and love today. Prior to my shift in diet many years ago, I pretty much cooked and ate foods I grew up and was most familiar with. But it was during this shift new ingredients, and methods of cooking gained my attention.
Enough so that I became increasingly more interested in and excited about preparing a wider variety of food at home, looking outside of my familiar American diet, to other cultures, to inspire my cooking adventures. What I found offered new cooking methods and flavors that I’d not yet experienced.
I became, as some would say, adventurous in cooking and eating and no longer gave a pass to recipes whose ingredient list was too long, or contained unfamiliar ingredients.
Naturally, Indian cooking sparked my interest.
Enter Asha, whose beautiful blog I’ve been following for years. She’s helped propel my skills and knowledge in Indian cooking. Learning about the history behind recipes passed down from her mother and authentic Indian cooking, her recipes are approachable and her beautiful photography on her blog draws me in.
So, why am I sharing about Asha? Well… she just published her first cookbook and I’m so excited to be sharing it with you!
Her debut cookbook Masala & Meatballs is completely tempting and practical. Packed with personal accounts of stories behind the food, vibrant recipes, tips, ingredient descriptions, and mouthwatering photography by Alanna of The Bojon Gourmet (who inspired my styling here), just look at the glowing reviews on Amazon (!!).
While Asha’s book includes recipes for omnivores, there are plenty suitable (and adaptable) for vegetarians too. The first recipe I made from her book was Chickpea Cauliflower Stew, which we loved. Lentil Risotto with Rainbow Chard and Crispy Carrots was the second; creamy, texture rich, and colorful with notes of cumin, ginger and garlic layered throughout.
What I love about this recipe is the way Asha uses dal (split chickpeas) in the risotto, as this is new to me. Being a vegetarian, pulses are a big part of my diet so I’m constantly on the lookout for new ways to enjoy them.
Additionally, the method Asha uses to cook risotto is quite exciting. I didn’t stand over the stove stirring the entire time. Simply, Asha lids the risotto and adds broth only twice through the cooking process. So, while the risotto is cooking, the chard and carrot components of this dish can be made.
There are many more recipes in Masala & Meatballs I can’t wait to make, including:
- Potato and Chickpea Burgers with Apple Cilantro Chutney
- Orange Chiffon Cake with Pistachio-Cardamom Swirles (OMGeee!)
- Stuffed Tomatoes with Tofu Scramble and Edamame
- Hush Puppies with Pepper and Cumin
- Pineapple Ginger Margarita
- Mushroom and Chive Omelet
- Fried Banana Bread
Whether you’re new to Indian cooking or looking to expand your cooking adventures, you’re going to love this book. Find Masala & Meatballs on Amazon or where books are sold. Find Asha at her blog, Food Fashion Party.
Lentil Risotto with Rainbow Chard and Carrots
- 1/2 C (125g) Chana Dal or yellow split mung dal (95g)
- 1 Tbs + 1 tsp Vegetable Oil divided, I use coconut oil
- 1 C (218g) Arborio Rice rinsed and drained
- 5 C (1175g) Water or Vegetable Broth divided - I use a mixture of 1/2 each
- 1 tsp Fine Sea Salt divided
- 1 Tbs Fresh Ginger grated - use a microplane or mince
- 1 tsp Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Cumin Seed
- 10 Cashews broken into pieces - plus a few more for garnish
- 10 Curry leaves optional - I left these out
- 1 Tbs Shallot minced *See notes
- 1 C (55g) Rainbow Chard chopped and packed
- 1/2 tsp Fresh Garlic grated - use a microplane or mince
- 3 Tbs Vegetable Oil I use coconut oil
- 2 Carrots peeled and cut into match sticks **See notes
- Place the chana dal in a pan over medium heat and stir, toasting lightly for about 3 minutes until it slightly turns color. Remove from the heat, rinse well in cold water and drain. Set aside.
- In a large, heavy saucepan with 3" sides (7.5cm) or a Dutch oven, heat 1 Tbs of vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the washed dal and rice and toast lightly again, being careful not to break the grains - about 2-3 minutes. Add 2 C (470g) of the vegetable/water broth mixture, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then turn down the heat to low; cook, covered without stirring, until all the water is absorbed - 12-15 minutes. Add the remaining 3 C (705g) of broth, cover and cook over low heat until the rice is completely cooked and softer in texture, about 15-20 minutes (Asha's book indicates 30 minutes - due to cooktop variations/heat - check the risotto starting at about 15 minutes and keep an eye on it. You don't want it to dry out.) Add 1/2 tsp of salt, cover and turn off the heat. Set aside.
- In a saute pan, heat the remaining 1 tsp of vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the ginger, pepper, cumin seeds, cashews, curry leaves (if using), and shallot and fry until they splutter and become toasted, 30 seconds. Add the chopped rainbow chard and remaining 1/2 tsp of salt and saute until it is wilted down and cooked through about 3 minutes (it will seem dry, but it's okay, keep going until wilted). Just before removing the chard mixture off the heat, toss in the garlic, stirring, and incorporating for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and the spicy chard mixture to the cooked risotto mixture and stir to throughly combine. The rice should not be neither too firm nor soggy or watery (if too stiff, add a few tablespoons of water and stir). When you spoon it onto a plate it should very slowly spread. Check for salt, adjust as needed.
- For the garnish, heat the oil in a flat-bottomed, nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and cook until caramelized and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve the risotto with the crispy carrots** on top and a few chopped cashews.