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Lentil and Spinach Curry

Lentil and Spinach Curry By Rosie McKay: Undergraduate Nutrition Student Serves 4-6

The great thing about this curry is that it’s not only cheap and simple to make, but also packed full of essential nutrients.

Some of these include:
Wholegrains such as brown rice and pulses such as lentils contain iron, which is necessary in the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body (Anon, 2011). Generally a maximum of only 8% of iron is absorbed into the blood from vegetable sources (Coultate, 2009) so it is important to eat a variety of iron-rich foods. Try drinking a glass of orange juice with no added sugar with your meal as the Vitamin C will boost your absorption (Mann and Truswell, 2007).

By combining lentils and brown rice, this meal contains all 9 essential amino acids. Amino acids are the ‘building blocks’ of protein. Protein is a major structural component of our cells and is needed for growth and repair, among many other functions (Hunter, 2011). Protein-rich foods also keep you feeling fuller for longer (Hunter, 2011).


brown rice (1/3 mug per person)

onion (1) peeled and roughly chopped

garlic (1 clove) peeled and finely chopped

red lentils (1 mug full) rinsed until the water runs clear

sunflower or vegetable oil for frying

ground cumin (1 teaspoon)

garam masala (2 teaspoons)

curry powder (2 teaspoons)

vegetable stock cube (1) or vegetable Bouillon powder (1 teaspoon)

spinach (3 handfuls)

low fat natural yoghurt to serve


*hi tip: if you need to begin a spice collection, don't start in a supermarket. There are lots of local shops that will sell herbs and spices for a lot less. 

chopping board
vegetable knife
wooden spoon
regular sized mug
large frying pan
medium saucepan

1. Fill the saucepan about 1/3 way up with water and put on to boil

2. Prepare onion and garlic

3. When the water is boiling, rinse the rice using the sieve. Add to the pan. Stir and leave uncovered on a low-medium heat
4. Rinse the lentils under water until it runs clear

5. Add a splash of oil and the spices to the frying pan. Warm on a medium heat for about 30 seconds before adding the onion

6. Stir the onion. Continue to fry until soft (picture 1)

7. Add the garlic. Fry for a further 1-2 minutes

8. Crumble in the stock cube or add vegetable Bouillon powder

9. Add lentils

10. Gradually add enough water to cover the lentils (picture 2). Be careful at this point as the oil may spit if the water is added too quickly

11. Allow the lentils to cook on a medium heat, stirring regularly. As the lentils swell, add more water to maintain a curry-like consistency

12. When the rice is nearly ready (cooked but still quite chewy), turn off the saucepan and leave while the curry finishes cooking.

13. The lentils are cooked when yellow and soft, with no excess water in the pan (picture 3). Turn off the heat at this point and add a pinch of salt if required

14. Roughly chop the spinach. Add to the pan, stirring

15. Leave the curry to stand for a few minutes. Meanwhile, drain and serve the rice with a little natural yoghurt

16. Serve and enjoy!


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