I probably say this a lot but if I had to make a list of those dishes that I could eat over and over again without fail, this spinach and coconut dhal would be right up there. And, I promise you, if you give it a go, you will not be disappointed. It’s warming, filling, comforting. It’s just the perfect dish for those cold, winter evenings when all you want to do is snuggle up under a blanket and watch back-to-back Criminal Minds on Amazon Prime (just me? Ok!).
Can you say that a curry is good for the soul? Oh yes, I’d say so. In fact, any food which is nutritious and brings a smile to your face is good for the soul. FACT.
Now, I have seen many recipes for spinach and coconut dhal out there which I’m sure are equally delicious. But I find this recipe easier since it doesn’t call for many different spices which, I understand, a lot of people may find a little daunting.
The garam masala (which is in fact already a mix of different spices, typically cumin, peppercorns, cinnamon, mace, coriander, cardamom, bay leaf and cloves) does a wonderful job at giving this dish both flavour and heath (without blowing your head off!). It’s such a common ingredient in Indian cooking that you can find it in most UK supermarkets these days or, alternatively, you can order it from Amazon.
I tend to prefer fresh ingredients whenever possible but if you’re in a rush, grab some ready-made garlic and ginger paste for an even easier prep.
This recipe is ideal for those of you who’ve never cooked red lentils before as it’s just so easy to prepare and so tasty.
I have a lot of love for these little pulses, so much that we buy huge bags of the stuff and go through them pretty rapidly. In fact, even our Christmas lunch last month was an amazing nut roast made with red lentils. They’re full of protein, fibre, iron, low in calories and they’re pretty cheap. What’s not to like? They’re just the perfect food, whether you are vegetarian or a carnivore who wants to enjoy more meat-free dishes.
When making this spinach and coconut dhal, I like to cook big batches as it freezes so so well.
The quantities you see below in the recipe card are for 6 very generous portions (when eaten as a main dish) but I often double up and fill up the freezer.
I’m sure you guys know how tempting it is to order in a pizza or Chinese a long day.
Having a few meals like this that I can take out of the freezer in the morning helps me keep myself and my family healthy, even on days when cooking from scratch just isn’t happening.
Nothing wrong with a treat every now and then, but, you know, I’d rather enjoy that stuff because I want to, rather than because I’m too tired to cook.
And before I forget, rather than rice and naan breads – have you ever had chips with a hot bowl of dhal? No, I haven’t lost the plot and it’s not even some kind of attempt to make my toddler try it (in fact, she loves lentil curry but prefers naan bread to chips. Strange child.).
This unusual pairing is something I first tried in a pub in a village not too far from where we live here in West Yorkshire. The mother of the owner, of Pakistani origin, used to make the most amazing tarka dhal (that lovely garlicky, melt-in-the mouth goodness that I still haven’t managed to replicate at home) which would be served with chips as a light bite at the bar. So this is where the obsession with dunking chips into dhal comes from. You must give it a shot and let me know what you think.
So here’s how you can make this spinach and coconut dhal curry at home and, as usual, do let me know how it turned out. I’m pretty confident you’ll love it as much as we do.
Spinach & coconut lentil dhal
Prep Time: 5
Cook Time: 40
Warming, filling, comforting. This Spinach & Lentil Dhal is just the perfect dish for a cold, winter evening.
1.Heat the oil in a large pot and fry the onions until soft. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
2.Add the garam masala and the turmeric and stir well. Then tip in the chopped tomatoes, the lentils and the boiling water, bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.
3.Add the coconut milk, stir well to ensure it’s dissolved, and cook for a further 15 minutes or until the lentils are very soft, adding the spinach 2 minuted before the end of cooking. Season with salt.
4.Serve hot with boiled basmati rice, naan bread or chips (yes, dhal and chips is totally a thing in our house!)
Suitable for vegans
If freezing leftovers, cool the curry completely before storing into airtight containers and popping them into the freezer. Best consumed within 3 months.