Lentil and Spinach Curry

by Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit) on March 13, 2013

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I love Indian food in a head over heels, madly, deeply, crazy, crushin’, love bug sorta way.

I’m smitten. And there is no sign of it dissipating.

But man, good luck finding Indian recipes that are ghee-free, dairy-free and oil-reduced. It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack!

So, instead of wasting time searching for the perfect Indian recipes, I’ve chosen to create a collection of my own healthy Indian recipes. Care to join me?

Yellow Lentil and Spinach Curry (78)

Before you get intimidated by all the hot peppers in the photo above, don’t worry, I didn’t add this much to the recipe!

I’m committed to providing you with the best (simple) healthy recipes out there… and that includes creating recipes that wont burn your tongue off!

And hey, if you love this recipe and think that your friends would love it too, I’d love for you to pass on the the love by sharing this recipe on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Your ongoing support lets me continue to create awesome recipes, blog posts, meal plans and cleanse programs for y’all!

And, just in case you were wondering, spinach and lentils are a match made in heaven.

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5.0 from 3 reviews

Lentil and Spinach Curry
Author: 
Allergens: Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Sugar-free, Yeast-free, Corn-free, Grain-free, Nut-free, Egg-free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A super simple, healthy Indian recipe made with yellow lentils, spinach and spices.
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups water
  • 1⅓ dry/uncooked toor dal (aka tuvar dal, arhar dal, yellow lentils, tur dal) or yellow split peas, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground ginger
  • 250 grams baby spinach, chopped roughly
  • 1 green chilli, de-seeded and cut in half (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Tempering:
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 dried red chillies, broken up with your hands
  • 1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 6 curry leaves
Instructions
  1. Add water, lentils, turmeric and salt in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 25 minutes, or until lentils are soft. Drain excess water, reserving ¼ cup. Return lentils back to saucepan along with reserved cooking water. Mash lightly with a fork or potato masher and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, saute coconut oil with garlic and ginger. Add chopped spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes until lightly wilted.
  3. Add spinach to lentil mixture along with chillies.
  4. In the same pan you sauteed the spinach in, add tempering ingredients and heat on medium-high until seeds begin to pop and get golden.
  5. Drop tempering into lentil mix and stir to combine. Return lentil mixture to the heating element and cook, covered on low heat, for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Stir in lemon juice and fresh cilantro.

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Adding the turmeric to the lentils give them a nice, bright yellow color. It’s really pretty, actually. I was tempted to just stop the recipe here and snack on lentils, but I held back knowing there was something even better coming.

Yellow Lentil and Spinach Curry (87)

250 grams of spinach is a lot of spinach. Plan to use an entire package of it.

But, spinach is good for you… so spinach it up!

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Instead of having a garlic mincer, large knife and a citrus zester in my small kitchen of mine, I use a citrus zester to mince my garlic and ginger and save kitchen space, money and time.

Who doesn’t like conserving kitchen space, money and time?

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For the tempering, add all ingredients to your frying pan and heat until the seeds start to lightly pop. You’ll hear them!

And, if you’d really like to treat yourself you can find patak gluten-free pappadums in the ethnic isle of many grocery stores. They’re not certified gluten-free, but if you’re on a gluten-free diet and NOT celiac, have at ‘er. I rubbed a little bit of coconut oil on each, heated them up and had a plate full of healthier pappadums waiting before me.

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Now it’s your turn to share your love secrets: What’s one thing in your life (not a person!) that you are crazy in love with?

What steps do you take to make recipes healthier for you and your family?

Please, share your genius!

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz

Leanne, I’m so glad you’re a woman unafraid of bold spices. You are a girl after my own stomach. :) My ever-growing spice collection is becoming a bit, um, unruly, and it keeps spreading. It’s like The Blob — slowly overtaking it’s surrounding area. But, at least I know, I’m always covered!

I love how Indian cuisine has SO many flatbread/tortilla/pancake products with just as many names. Dosas, Pudas, chillas, crepes, pappadums, naan. I have NO idea what the difference is between ANY of them!

I don’t eat any dairy so I’ve never had ghee, but isn’t it supposed to be free of lactose? I thought I read that since the fact that all the solids have been skimmed off, the results in an easily digestible, healing and nourishing food, sort of like bone broth? Am I misinformed?

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

You can never have too many spices. I firmly believe that.

You’re right about ghee. There is no lactose, but there is still casein (I believe) and that’s what I react to. Total bummer. I treat myself to it every once in awhile thinking that I wont react to it but I always do!

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Trisha

I LOVE this recipe! I cannot wait to make it! My mouth is watering as I sit here at work… :)

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Trisha

Also. I’m totally and completely in love with my dog and oats. :-)

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stefania

Leanne, I am with you on the Indian Food. Last night I was chatting with my sister and telling her that I had gone to her favorite place in London, ON, called New Delhi at the Covent Market – downtown (brilliant spot) and the owner was such a dear and great help and loves to chatter about her food and love of cooking and if that was all I could eat, I would eat but with not all the ingredients that can be found in some recipes. I love how simple your recipes are and the ingredients are easy to find, purchase and use. I am forever thankful I came across your site by accident and have dialed in. Makes my days happier. Keep doing what you do and inspiring others to be fresh, wholesome and a little daring.

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Aw, thank you Stefania :)

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat

I feel like you, me, and the other readers above need to get together for a big Indian food feast! This sounds delicious, and like you said, I also have trouble finding curry recipes that aren’t full of oil. You already know what I’m crazy in love with (starts with a c and rhymes with parrots!) but I’m also currently adoring avocados!

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Jo-Anne

Leanne, I swear you are a kindred spirit. I have been in love with Indian food for many years and have every one of these ingredients on hand. So! I will make this for supper tonight (with your blood-orange parfait for dessert)! Another ‘crazy-in-love’ obsession is plants. I work for an organic greenhouse and have lemon grass, wild lime, Thai ginger and allspice (as well as rosemary and bay) growing on windowsills in my home, just waiting to be made into something delicious. Although my curry-leaf tree met an unfortunate end recently, I have plenty of dried leaves I will use for your beautiful creation. Thanks, Leanne!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Wow, I’m amazed at your obvious green thumb! I wish I could keep herbs alive in my kitchen. Goodness knows I go through enough of them! I hope you curry and parfaits went over well :)

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Jo-Anne

Your spinach-lentil curry recipe has been printed out and emblazoned with the word “KEEPER!” in black Sharpie. LOVED it. Quick, wholesome, full-flavoured, colourful and Indian – 5 stars! The parfait fared less well, for the same reason as the lemon pudding – no matter how much I processed, the creme remained grainy as opposed to smooth. So I abandoned the parfaits and made vegan chocolate fudge brownies instead. And you know, the secret to keeping herbs indoors is the light and exposure you have in your house. In most places in Canada, some herbs like basil are just going to demand grow lights (or a day length of at least 12-18 hours), rosemary and most lavenders need a longish cold period, and the other ones I mentioned only remain alive chez moi because they will tolerate bright light (no full sun) and a cool window in winter. Which is why the curry leaf tree is no longer in the land of the living. :D

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Michelle

One word for this recipe: YES!

Oh boy, do I love Indian food! Though… I may love Ethiopian even better. It’s the injera – made from Teff and fermented and amazing… I don’t know if it has gluten, though… I’m afraid it may. Since it’s not a concern for me, I don’t worry about it, just consume it like a fiend once every six months or so when we manage to rustle up some Ethiopian.

I’m also pretty in love with the vegan brown rice & black quinoa burgers I made up this past weekend. Fed ‘em to a group of mixed dietary folks (including meat & dairy eaters) and everyone demanded the recipe. Even managed a blog post from that one (yay me)!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Mmmm I’m with you on the Ethiopian. I really, really need to find some friends to go with me. A lot of my pals don’t like spicy food so it’s challenging. They can do injera gluten-free. Woohoo!

Black quinoa burgers sound amazing.

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Donna

Any suggestion for paleo people to sub for the lentils???…If not…this just may have to be the “20″ in the 80/20 rule…it looks too delicious to not make!…I LOVE Indian food and strong spicing…and Patak’s Pappadum’s are brilliant…a nutty taste and crunch-craving satisfier!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Oh the good ‘ol 80/20 rule. Love it! You could make this curry with chicken, I’m sure.

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Helyn

I love GREENS of any kind… and Indian food ;-)

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Well, seems you’re just going to HAVE to make this recipe, Helyn ;) Have a great weekend!

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jo @ includingcake

I am in love with granola…of various kinds…big nuggets of crunchy chewy granola! Mmmmmm.

Saying that I do also love indian spices particularly combined with chickpeas, they give so much taste and texture to a dish!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Mmm granola… gosh. Now I want some!

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Deb @ Dietitian Debbie Dishes

I love curry! This one looks absolutely delicious! My boyfriend and I make curry often because it is an easy way to use up leftover veggies. :-) Currently, I can’t get enough sweet potatoes!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Yum. I love the idea of just using up random veggies in the house and throwing them in a curry. I’m with you on the sweet potatoes. I eat one a day… and have for quite some time. They’re so nourishing!

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Lori

This looks amazing! I don’t have any of the tempering ingredients on hand, nor do I have the time to seek them out. What would be a good substitute? Garam masala? I LOVE indian food but am new to trying to cook it on my own. The spices are very overwhelming and daunting – but like you, I am determined to get my Indian without dairy or loads of oil. Any help I appreciate!!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Hi Lori – for sure, you could add garam masala and be done with it. Probably 1 tablespoon?

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Monique

I love soups! And I add turmeric, pepper and olive oil to basically all the soups I prepare, since these three ingredients mixed together are among the best food that fight cancer, according to Dr Béliveau.
http://www.amazon.ca/Foods-That-Fight-Cancer-Preventing/dp/0771011350.

Thank you Leanne for this wonderful dairy-free recipe.

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

I have never thought to add turmeric to a soup. Great idea, Monique. I’ll have to give that a shot. You’re right, they’re all fabulously healthy ingredients!

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Antigone

I am so excited about your new undertaking. I have recently discovered Indian food. Where I live…let’s just say, Indian restaurants are not a dining option. I love all the roasted spices! Thank you for working on allergen-freeing some recipes. I have tried some Punjab type dishes, but I don’t think they turned out quite right. Can’t wait to try yours!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Wow, no Indian food takeout? Insanity! I hope you enjoy my collection. I’ll be adding to it as often as possible :)

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Katie

Is there a substitute for curry leaves? Forgive my ignorance, I don’t believe I have ever seen such a thing up in Alaska! Would curry powder be acceptable and in what quantity?

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janet @ the taste space

No, please don’t use curry powder. Even dried curry leaves are iffy. I usually buy my curry leaves from an Indian grocer and freeze them. I don’t think there really is a substitute.

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Jo-Anne

I’m with Janet – nothing else tastes like fresh curry leaves. But if you’re stuck, you can mail-order them from an Indian grocery supplier. Here’s one I found:http://www.ishopindian.com/fresh-curry-leaves-pr-22534.html And re-hydrated dried leaves will do in a pinch.

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Margot C

Ha! So glad to see that I am not alone. To Indian food purists – the horror – but I’ve been substituting coconut oil for gee in everything Indian that I make (which is about once a week) and everything is BETTER!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

No judgement here :D

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Erin

Amazing! So thrilled that it’s also tomato free.
Keep up the great work Leanne :)

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Are you allergic to tomatoes, Erin? I’ve had a bunch of people tell me that they can’t do tomatoes. I’ll be sure to come up with more curries that don’t have any :) Stay tuned!

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janet @ the taste space

Yum! Love your Indian dishes.. And this one has toor dal, possibly my favourite (your measurement is in cups, right?). Tempering is key for sale and I just tried it with my latest Turkish lentil soup… Smoked paprika and mint make a fine tarka. :-)

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katiek

This recipe was AMAZING!!! I used collard greens instead of spinach(didn`t wanna go shopping) but it was still really good!!!! I highly suggest this recipe!

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Lorie

Is this 1 and 1/3 CUP of lentils? It doesn’t say specifically! HELP!!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Sure thing, Lorie. The “1⅓ toor dal (aka tuvar dal, arhar dal, yellow lentils, tur dal) or yellow split peas, rinsed and drained” is the lentils. Dry lentils. Hope that helps!

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Karen

Hi I’m making this right now … But can’t find at what point you add the curry leaves?! As the lentil are already cooked I think I’ll add them with the spinach…

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Karen

Call off the troops! I was having a senior moment, spotted them with the tempering ingredients… It’s smelling delicious x

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Chris

Sounds delicious.
My tips, for variations: instead, of lentils, try adding any fresh peas or frozen peas. For me, I find different types of fresh peas at my local farmers market, and just freeze them in plastic bags until needed, then add them frozen to the sauce early on. –even baby Lima beans are great!

Or try adding fish, shrimp, or mussels for the protein instead of lentils–or just add less peas when using protein.

Happy cooking!

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