Lentil Risotto with Rainbow Chard and Carrots is a creamy, flavor packed main from Asha Shivakumar’s debut cookbook Masala & Meatballs. Sharing an easy risotto method, loaded with flavor, dinner is ready in about 45 minutes. This recipe is vegetarian, vegan and gluten free.
New Flavors and Inspiration
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.
Indian Cooking Curiosity
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 (!!).
About Asha’s Lentil Risotto
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.
More New Recipes to Try
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.
More International Inspired Recipes to Love
- Veggie Thai Fried Rice
- Chana Dal Cauliflower Curry
- Thai Peanut Noodle Salad
- Red Curry with Spicy Red Lentils
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.
Did I miss something? The title says lentil but I don’t see any lentils in the recipe?
Hi Krista! I’m sorry for the confusion. Split lentils are also referred to as Dal or Daal in Indian cuisine. There are a wide variety of lentils, so the title is a general term, but in this recipe specifically, look for chana dal (split chickpeas) or split mung dal. These are dried lentils. I hope this helps!
Wonderful pictures! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. It looks delicious! I can’t wait to make it at home.
Hi Billy! Thank you for your note. I hope you enjoy it!
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary
I definitely need to get my grubby little hands on Asha’s book! Not only is she absolutely lovely, her recipes are amazing! I’m loving this risotto!! Using lentils is a stroke of genius! Beautiful photos and words, my friend!! Cheers! xoxo
Thank you, Chey! You’d appreciate her book.. and I’m SO with you on the lentils in risotto!
Wowza, Fried Banana Bread sounds interesting!
Right? I wanted to dive right in!!
Traci, You know how much I love your pictures, and your beautiful content that you so carefully curate. The pictures are beautiful and your blog post is wonderful. I have not tried this recipe but yes it sounds wonderful, esp with the carrots and the rainbow chard, and the cashews on the top! Such a fun giveaway and I love Asha’s book so much! It is really a great book to learn and understand about Indian cooking for sure.
You’re so kind, Amisha… thank you so much for your encouragement. I absolutely love cashews.. for their slightly sweet flavor, crunch and they make the best milk ever!! But the combination of ingredients is so good… so well balanced. I think you’ll love this, Amisha!
I won a prize at a bridal shower this weekend, so I’m feeling lucky. However, if I don’t win a copy of Asha’s book…..I am definitely inspired to purchase one. Thanks Traci and good luck to me!
What fun! Best of luck to you Ellen!
I would love to add Asha’s book to my collection. My goal this year is to learn more about cooking Indian cuisine. But for now, I shall head on over to her blog.. Thanks for introducing us.
So happy to do it, Renee! I know you’ll enjoy exploring her site!
I love lentils, but never thought of trying them in risotto. Sounds delicious! Your pictures are beautiful…looking forward to making this recipe!! It’s the perfect time of year, too….a warm and comforting dish in this cold weather.
Right? Such a great idea and perfect for the coldest of days! Thank you for your kind words, Mary… I hope you enjoy the risotto.
geraldine | Green Valley Kitchen
This is an inventive recipe, Traci – I tend to shy away from new ingredients and long lists – but feel I should be exploring different recipes from different cultures. I look forward to giving this a try. I love adding lentils to salads and soups but never thought of adding them to risotto! Hope you’re having a great weekend.
I thought so too, Geraldine… all the reason I chose it. And I’m just a big fan of lentils anyway!
Karen @ Seasonal Cravings
I love new cookbook ideas… I’m kind of obsessed with them! They are overtaking my kitchen and the hubs is getting irritated. This is a gorgeous comforting dish that is perfect for today bc we have snow coming!
Ohhh the snow! What fun! SO many books, I’m with you Karen! I’ve plenty of reading material too (I had to get Rob to build me a new shelf in the laundry room… for cookbooks – and a few other misc. items! hehe).
What a gorgeous meal and so perfect for this time of year!
Thank you, Karen!
I’d like to expand my cooking repertoire to other cultures and cuisines, too – this dish looks delicious!
Thank you for your note, Melissa! Asha’s book is a great starting point!
I used to cook for the local ashram and often have heard people say they could live on rice and dahl (lentils). This looks like a much more delicious recipe than I’ve ever done and so am quite looking forward to it. So far, all your recipes that I’ve tried have been wonderfully successful.
Oh my goodness, so you’ve a background in Indian cooking… this will be a snap for you then. I found it completely approachable and I’ll be on the lookout for some of those spices and curry leaves that are missing from my pantry. Thank you for your kind words, Mary :D
I love lentils but had never thought of adding them in risotto. I can’t wait to try the recipe.
Thanks so much for sharing. In my latter years I have tried to expand my palette to different cuisines and love the description of Asia’s cookbook. Also the photography is so beautiful. I am in the process of trying a more vegetarian approach to my cooking. Wish me luck as I am trying to convert a very carnivorous household!
Right? Me too Hope! All my best as you convert… I know it can be a challenge!
Laura | Tutti Dolci
Such a beautiful and delicious twist on risotto – can’t wait to try this!
You’re going to love it Laura!
My mouth is watering! This dish is beautiful and, I just know, delicious. The split mung dal and rice combination reminds me of kitchari—one of my favorite comfort food dishes. The crunchy cashews on top are genius! If folks are buying spices in bulk, I’ve seen asafoetida also go by the name “hing.” Thanks for sharing this recipe!
Ohhh, thanks for the “hing” tip, Kristin! I wouldn’t have known. I’m looking up kitchari! Enjoy my dear!
I just made this dish and it’s absolutely delicious! I too omitted the asafoetida (personal preference) and curry leaves (couldn’t find them). I used split mung dal for the pulses and they worked fabulously. I subbed in kale for the chard and topped the dish with cilantro (because cilantro!) and extra turmeric cashews. The lid method for the risotto is genius—no more standing around stirring and no more excuses for allowing risotto recipes to gather dust! Thank you for sharing this recipe, Traci! And thank you to Asha for the inspiration and revolutionary risotto hack.
I’ve seen all sorts of “alternative grain” risottos popping up, but never one with lentils before. It sounds amazing!
And it is, Hannah! I hope you enjoy the recipe.
This risotto looks amazing! I know what I’ll be cooking this weekend :)
Thank you, Jan!
i too am intimidated by long ingredient lists as you used to be. If i was lucky enough to win the book then i would get a nudge to get over that which would be great.
Indeed… could this recipe be the nudge? Good luck, Jacquie!
Looks so beautiful and healthy and flavorful! Can’t wait to make this! Cookbook looks awesome!
Thank you Tami!
This dish looks like it fits my general guidelines for good eating: eat the rainbow!
Indeed! Let’s eat the rainbow – love it!
Stephanie J. Schiltz
Can’t wait to try this recipe. Just bout a variety of lentils to experiment with. Love your photos. Everything looks so appealing. Love the giveaway too!
Hooray for a variety of lentils! I just went nuts in the bulk bins so I’m stocked up! Thank you for your kind words, Stephanie – I hope you enjoy the recipe.
This looks so yummy, I can’t wait to try it. Thanks
Thank you and welcome, Theresa!
Excited to try this and I’m checking out Asha’s blog. I love Indian food, but never had the courage to try making it myself. Maybe one of her recipes might inspire me.
Hi Priscilla! It’s so exciting being on the cusp of discovery! I hope you find loads of inspiration at Asha’s!
I love how rich and creamy risottos taste. I substituted red rice recently with a butternut squash risotto but I confess using Arborio rice is better. Love Indian food but find special ingredients hard to get. Time to order (asafetida, curry leaves, etc) online! Thank you!
I’m SO with you… and even without cheese, this is so creamy and has loads of flavor. Indeed, those ingredients can be hard to find… but if I can’t find them at our Co-Op 1.5 hours away or at Whole Foods (2 hours away! lol!), I bet Amazon has em’! LOL I hope you enjoy the recipe!
What a beautiful dish! I never would have thought of adding lentils to a risotto, but it’s a fantastic way to truly make it a main dish.
Hi Jennie! Right? My thoughts exactly… and a simple way too to incorporate such a nourishing ingredient. I love it too and can’t wait to try new ways with it (I’m thinking french lentils in a mushroom risotto!? OH MY!) .
I’ve been wanting to try to make risotto and to venture into more Indian flavors. This may be my start. Thanks!
SO fun, VK! This book, then, would be a great launching pad – as well as Asha’s blog!
This looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it! Thanks for sharing!
Hi Deborah! Most welcome!
Looking forward to trying this recipe this weekend. It looks delicious. I am new to your blog and am enjoying your writing, photography, and recipes. Thank-you!
Thank you for your note and kind words, Jeannne! I hope you enjoy the recipe and the blog.
This recipe looks delicious! And if it’s a sneak peak into the other recipes in the book, I’d love to learn to cook this way :)
It’s so fun trying new ways of cooking! Thank you for entering the giveaway, Barbara!
This looks amazing!
I’m thinking if transitioning from vegetarian to vegan ,
And I could do with some inspiration and guidance.
Thank you Lou! I hope you’re able to ease into your transition… I’m happy to help.
I would love to try recipes from this! Thanks!
Hi Cori! You’re most welcome!
At 63 I am just beginning to become more adventurous with my cooking! What a treat!
Hooray, Debbie! Your comment made me smile. And it’s never, ever too late to start! :D
I’m trying this receipe with the curry leaves tonight! How generous if Asha to give away a copy of her cookbook! Good luck to both of you!
Hooray for curry leaves!! I’ve gotta locate some. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have!
What a beautiful and thorough post!!! I am truly honored.
Traci, you truly have described everything about it way better than I could have ever explained. I loved reading this post and enjoyed the absolutely stunning pictures here. You are a true artist. This looks simply and utterly divine my friend.
Like you said, we grew up with different kinds of food awe love exploring. I’ve loved every single post of yours and you’ve taught me so much about Southern food.
Thanks for being a nice friend Traci.
Love and Hugs.
Hiii Asha! What a pleasure it is to have your book in my hands and share here! I’m in awe and thank you for allowing me to help support your launch. <3
This looks so good! Risotto has always been intimidating to me so I can’t wait to give this a go!
I really like Asha’s method Emily! It’s nice to be able to keep an eye on it on the stove top yet be freed up to do other tasks. I hope you enjoy it, Emily!
The photos are making my mouth water, and the short list of other recipes look delicious. Looking forward to seeing more from Asha. Thanks, Traci, for introducing her to us.
Thanks so much.
Oh yes, that short list.. there are so many more I wanted to add, like her Jam Buns and Pizza Pockets with Spiced Asparagus… and , and…. You’re welcome Thomas! So happy too!
Liz @ Floating Kitchen
Oh I just love everything I’m seeing from Asha’s book! I need a copy for sure! And this risotto is no exception! I started baking my risotto several years ago because I couldn’t stand the thought of standing and stirring for 30 minutes. So I MUST try this method! Beautiful photos!
It’s just fabulous, Liz! I’ve tried the baking method and I couldn’t seem to finish with a throughly cooked risotto and as creamy (perhaps I was doing it wrong? or I need to try again). But I loved this method because I didn’t have to turn on the oven and it’s easy enough. Yeah.. all that stirring? Why??! I hope you enjoy this as much as we do! xo
This looks so delicious and the cookbook looks beautiful!
Thank you Deanne!
You have described me also in your writing. My mother was not an adventurous cook and my previous husband was a picky eater. Since he has passed, I have been able to venture out and explore new foods, cuisine, and recipes much to my delight! What new discoveries I am making! Will be trying this recipe for sure. Thanks, Traci, for sharing.
I love hearing how others expand their knowledge of cooking and never stop learning. I mean, we all gotta eat, right? So why not make it fun, pleasurable and an adventure! Like you said – “to my delight!” I hope you enjoy this hearty recipe!
Thank you for introducing me to Asha, her blog and cookbook. I can’t wait to try this recipe.
So happy to Sandra! It’s such a satisfying meal.
What a beautiful presentation! It also looks delicious.
Thank you Annette!
Tessa | Salted Plains
I just love the thought of lentil risotto. I’m with you, using pulses in new and different ways is always exciting. Your photos are gorgeous, Traci! I can’t wait to get Asha’s book – everything sounds amazing. xo
Thanks Tessa. Hope you like it.
Right? Who knew? The texture is so nice, it’s completely balanced and filling. I think you’d love it, Tessa! Thank you for your kind words. MWAH!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
What a gorgeous dish Traci! I have a very good friend who grew up in India, so I am lucky to enjoy authentic Indian dishes every now and then, and even learn how to make a few myself. I love Asha’s easy risotto method in this recipe. I’ll need to try this soon, as well as that Orange Chiffon Cake. OMGee is right!
I loved reading this, Mary Ann! What fun to learn, hands on, from a friend. Yeah, that Orange Chiffon Cake… but there’s a honey one too… OMGee is right!!