Dal with cherry tomatoes, courgette and spinach

Dal with cherry tomatoes, courgette and spinach

Thrive on Five
Dan Jones

Our dal is a light lentil recipe, influenced by the traditional dal tadka from Northern India. It is delicious with either rice or chapatis. The onion, garlic and chilli paste can be made in advance and frozen, or kept in the fridge for up to five days.


Quantity Ingredient
knob root ginger, (about 2cm cube)
1 garlic clove
1 red chilli
2 small celery sticks, (80g)
1 small carrot, (80g)
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
a few fresh curry leaves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped, (160g)
90g red lentils, (yields about 160g when cooked)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
pinch chilli powder
small can chopped tomatoes, (about 230g)
1 courgette, cut into large bite-sized pieces, (160g)
large handful cherry tomatoes, halved, (80g)
80g baby spinach
handful coriander leaves
rice or chapatis, to serve


  1. Make a paste from the ginger, garlic and red chilli by blitzing in a small blender (or crushing in a mortar and pestle) and set aside. In the same blender, blitz the celery and carrot very finely with 2 tsp of water.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan and add the cinnamon stick and bay leaves, followed by the curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds. Cook for 30 seconds, or until they start to change colour, but be careful not to burn them.
  3. Add the onion and a little water to ensure the spices don’t catch, then cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. Then add the garlic and carrot mixtures and cook for a further 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, rinse the lentils until the water runs clear. Add to boiling water in a separate pan and cook for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.
  5. Add the remaining dry spices to the onion mixture and cook for a couple more minutes before adding the canned tomatoes and drained lentils. Top up with hot water to your preferred consistency. Add the courgette and cook until just soft. Take off the heat and add the cherry tomatoes and spinach, which will cook in the residual heat. Stir in the coriander and serve with rice or chapatis.
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