This week we’re eating… super-healthy spinach and red lentil dhal
Being a vegetarian, I use a lot of red lentils when I cook. Don’t laugh – I know it makes me sound like a hippy-dippy cliché! They’re actually really easy to cook with and I think they taste great too. I always chuck a handful in when I’m making pasta sauce, and add them to home-made carrot or tomato soup. They’re a cheap and easy way to sneakily add some iron and protein to a dish.
This spinach and red lentil dhal, however, is unashamed in giving lentils the starring role. My children and even Cardiff Daddy, who loves nothing more than a meat-based takeaway curry, like this dish a lot. Not only is it tasty, but lentils are so good for you. They’re low in fat, high in protein and packed-full of magnesium, folate, iron, zinc, vitamins B1 and B6 plus loads more. The spinach in this dish is also full of iron and vitamin c, not to mention all the other vegetables too.
I’ve had this recipe since 2009, printed out on a now-tatty piece of paper. I have no idea where it first came from, so I’m sorry not to be able to credit its rightful creator. I’ve made a few adaptations over the years but, whoever you are, thank you for this gorgeous dish.
Ingredients – spinach and red lentil dhal
1 onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped (or half a teaspoon of chilli flakes)
1 carrot, grated
1 courgette, halved and sliced
1 aubergine, cubed
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp mild curry powder
2 tsp mustard seeds
150g red lentils, washed
800ml vegetable stock
1 tin of chopped tomatoes (the original recipe I have says to add one regular chopped tomato, but after much experimenting, we like the dish with more tomato in it)
250g baby leaf spinach
A handful of fresh coriander to garnish
Put the onion, garlic, chilli, carrot, courgette and aubergine into a large saucepan and stir in the oil plus 2tbsp water. Heat until it starts to sizzle, then cover and cook gently for about 5 minutes, until softened.
Uncover and stir in the spices. Cook for 1 minute, then stir in the lentils and stock. Add the tomato.
Cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes, then uncover for a further five minutes, by which time the lentils should have burst open and thickened the liquid.
Add the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes so that it is just wilted.
Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with naan bread.
There are loads more tried and tested family food recipes on my blog.
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Could you make this with frozen spinach? Or defrosted frozen spinach? In which case, how long would you give that last step?
Ooh, I’ve never thought to try it with frozen spinach. I’m not sure, is my honest answer. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work just to stir a couple of handfuls of frozen spinach into the pan and to simmer it for four or five minutes. x