Spinach & Lentils

Originally an actress, Madhur Jaffrey became a household name in the UK in the 1980s as an authority on Indian cookery. We cooked loads of her dishes at home and several have become family staples. Spinach & lentils, which I’ve adapted over the years, is cheap and nutritious (sorry, Zita) and makes a great meal on its own, served with rice and raitha, or as part of a more lavish Indian spread.

Serves 6


200 g whole green lentils, washed and drained
750 ml water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1-2 fresh, hot green chillies
1 onion or 4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 cubic cm peeled, grated or chopped fresh ginger
8 tbsps chopped coriander
500 g (2 bags) fresh spinach, washed and drained
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of a lemon


Put the lentils and water into a heavy pan and bring to the boil. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 45 mins to 1 hour. (Add more water if the lentils are drying out.)

Put the oil in a pan large enough to hold the spinach (I use a wok) and set over a medium heat. When hot, put in the chillies and the ginger. Stir and fry for 10 seconds, then add the chopped onion or spring onion; turn heat down a bit and fry for 5 mins until the onions are soft but not brown.

Add the spinach and coriander; stir and cook until the spinach has wilted. Now put in the drained lentils, salt and pepper. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook gently for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook some rice. Add the lemon juice at the very end – the spinach will turn brown if you cook it with lemon for too long.

Published by motherrach

Alongside this blog, which records tried and tested family favourites, I’m documenting on Instagram (mother_rach_cooks) my efforts in repertoire expansion.

%d bloggers like this: