Friday, July 1, 2011


This is such a delicious dish to eat in the heat. Two simple core ingredients that don't necessarily scream sunshine and picnics but, unusually, I find them beautifully refreshing.

Put earthy lentils with fresh ginger, curry leaves, cumin, mustard seeds, turmeric and tomatoes, together with delicate spinach and cardamom, and you're diverted to instant summer comfort; as the spices give off warmth, they relax and cool you down. The punch of the sweet and smokey spices grabs tongue and nostrils with one powerful spoonful: fragrant, light, and freakishly moreish.

Serve with natural yoghurt and freshly chopped chilli, a sprinkle of fresh coriander and - for a real dip in the pool - a slice of lime.



200-300g red lentils, previously soaked (though just a good rinse is OK if time is short)
500g water
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 large tomato, deseeded and peeled and chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 shallot, finely chopped
20 fresh curry leaves
thumb-size knob fresh ginger, finely grated
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1kg spinach leaves, rinsed, dried and roughly torn
2 cardamom pods, crushed and ground

to serve:
handful fresh coriander, chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
4 tbsps natural yoghurt
1 lime, cut into four

Heat a large pan with the water and add the lentils. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the water has been absorbed. Be sure to stir the lentils as they cook, to avoid sticking to the pan. Stir in the turmeric, cayenne pepper, chopped tomato, puree and set aside.

Heat up a saucepan and add the crushed cardamom. The light aroma of the seeds will release with heat. Add the spinach and cover. Spinach contains enough water within its leaves, so no needs to add water. Add a touch of olive oil, season, and stir. Keep in the pan, off the heat, until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, heat up a frying pan with the mustard and cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add a little oil and the chopped shallot, and fresh curry leaves. When the onions have softened, add the garlic and ginger. Fry for another minute, making sure the garlic does not burn.

Stir the shallot mix into the lentils and gently heat through.

Serve the lentils on a bed of the wilted cardamom spinach. Garnish with the coriander, fresh chilli and yoghurt and wedge of lime.

Best eaten in the garden at sunset after a hot day with a cool beer. (Well, any excuse, really).


  1. I've been looking for a curry light enough to deal with the heat of the past few days, and this looks perfect! I love your blog. If you have a spare moment i'd love it if you could give me any advice on mine...

    Looking forward to you're next post! x

  2. Mollie, your lemon and pistachio cake looks divine! I will be making that this weekend with any luck. Maybe it'll be my pudding for Lunday feature I'm starting next week. Thank you!


  3. Oh my goodness, that looks and sounds so good. I love dhal and curry-y spinach, but I always think of them as side dishes. But actually what more could you ask for than these two, a splodge of yoghurt and a cold beer? Yum!

  4. Thanks Nora! On a rare occasion, I feel like eating just veg sans meat, and this was a delicious way of doing it. Undeniably good with spiced lamb though...