This red lentil curry with cauliflower and spinach is a hearty bowl of delicious lentils, with a thick sauce and a simple blend of spices. Cauliflower and spinach make for a healthy and delicious meal. You may even want to mop up the more-ish sauce with a fluffy vegan naan bread (or roti). Note: for long time readers, this recipe used to be called Cauliflower and Spinach Dal – same recipe, new name!
🌟 Why this recipe works
- Curry experts – curry is our thing. We’ve definitely had weeks where we’ve eaten curry every day and we love recreating classic curries from all over the world. When it comes to making a great curry, like this red lentil curry, you’ve come to the right place. In fact, take a look at this list of even more amazing Indian recipes for loads of inspiration.
- Straightforward – there’s nothing complicated about this recipe so it’s a breeze to prepare. Fry off some onion and spices, add the liquid and simmer with the lentils and veg. Plus, it doesn’t take long either!
- Dry spices – there’s no need to make a paste for this one. We use a blend of dried spices, including cumin, coriander and garam masala. It helps to make the recipe really quick, as well as simple and delicious.
- Revamped – this recipe has been on our site for many years, made and enjoyed by lots of people! We’ve revamped it and rewritten the article, but the core of the recipe is the same delicious red lentil curry that has always been here.
- 40 minutes – start to finish in just 40 minutes! What could go wrong? You could even serve it with our 10-minute vegan pilau rice for a super speedy dinner.
📋 Ingredient Notes
- Red lentils – it wouldn’t be a lentil curry without lentils! Dried red lentils are a great cupboard essential to keep in stock because they’re simple to cook with and packed with protein and fibre. They’re perfect for making a dal or a more substantial dish like this curry.
- Cauliflower – cauliflower is a top-tier ingredient for curries as far as we’re concerned. When cooked right it maintains a lovely ‘bite’ and is great for you too. If you’re a fan of cauliflower curries you should also check out this veg tikka masala.
- Spinach – dark leafy greens are great to incorporate into your diet and they don’t get much better than spinach. It’s a great addition to this red lentil curry because it can be wilted and stirred in right before serving.
- Spices – this dish starts with a classic curry base of onion, garlic and ginger. Then a dry spice blend of cumin, garam masala, coriander, chilli powder and turmeric takes it to the next level. Basic ingredients that we always have in our cupboard, but when combined in the right quantities make a really delicious curry!
Check out the recipe card at the bottom of this article for exact measurements to make this lush with cauliflower and spinach dal.
🔪 Step-by-step Instructions
This is a step-by-step overview with photos for this recipe. The full recipe, along with measurements and detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
1. Put a splash of oil (or oil spray) into a large saucepan and bring to a medium-high heat, then add the onion. Cook until translucent – onions are a very important part of making a delicious curry.
2. Now put in the garlic, ginger, chilli and the spices and cook for another minute.
3. Pop in the lentils and mix.
4. Immediately after adding the lentils, pour in the passata, coconut milk and stock bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer – simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
5. Add the cauliflower and simmer for another 15 minutes.
6. Season to taste and stir in the spinach until wilted.
👩🍳 Expert Tips
- Customise the spice – this recipe called for a mild chilli powder and only uses half a teaspoon. It’s fairly mild, which is the way we designed it, but you can drop the chilli powder to reduce the spice or pump it up to make it spicier.
- Bite-size florets – cut the cauliflower into even, bite-size florets. When preparing veg it always helps to chop them as evenly as possible to ensure even cooking. Plus, if you’re like us and eat primarily with a fork and a spoon, it means it’s the right size to stick straight in your gob!
- Prepare the spices – making a red lentil curry is so much easier if you measure out the spices into a ramekin first. We recommend this for most recipes that use quite a few spices, just like our Mushroom Biryani.
- Rinse the lentils – to remove any excess dirt, rinse the lentils in a sieve until the water runs clear.
- Vegetable substitutions – you could sub out the cauliflower for broccoli or aubergine. However, if using aubergine, bake it for around 30 minutes before adding to the curry. You can also substitute the spinach for kale.
- Storage – this cauliflower and spinach dahl will keep in the fridge for 3 days. Just be sure to reheat it thoroughly before serving.
- Freezing instructions – this is a great freezer meal. Lentils freeze really well and this meal can be kept in the freezer for upto 3 months. Make sure it’s served into individual portions before freezing and then defrost and reheat thoroughly before serving.
They’re actually one and the same! There are so many types of lentil dals or curries. Our recipe is called a red lentil curry with cauliflower and spinach but it could easily be called a cauliflower and spinach dal! The main difference, in our opinion is that this recipe is very red because of the red lentils and the passata that we use. Other dahls seem to be more orange or yellow in colour, even if made with red lentils. In addition, dahl doesn’t traditionally have additional ingredients in it like cauliflower, spinach or any other vegetable.
Yes, this curry freezes really well. The recipe card (below) features all the instructions that you need for freezing it.
Yes, you could make this curry without coconut milk. You could substitute unsweetened oat milk, or if you’d like a curry that’s not creamy, you could remove the coconut milk all together and replace it with more stock. The flavour would be different but still tasty (FYI we have not tried this but think it would work).
It’s hard to make a curry like this one without tomatoes or passata. However, a classic Sri Lankan dal only uses coconut milk and stock, so you could omit the tomato passata altogether and just increase the coconut milk and stock used. The flavour will be slightly different (less creamy) and the overall outcome will be less red and more orange or yellow.
Red lentils are one of the quickest lentils to cook! They generally take around 15 minutes and become soft once they’re ready. They also tend to double or triple in size and will help to thicken up any sauce. Split red lentils only take around 5-7 minutes to cook!
🍛 What to serve with it:
If you're interested in even more curry recipes, check out all of our amazing vegan curries.
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Red Lentil Curry
- 400 g cauliflower - chopped into bitesize florets
- 1 tbsp oil - or oil spray
- 1 onion - chopped
- 4 cloves garlic - finely chopped
- 1 inch ginger - finely chopped
- 1 tsp mild chilli powder
- 100 g spinach
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 4 tsp ground turmeric
- 400 ml coconut milk
- 500 g passata
- 1 cup red lentils
- 250 ml vegetable stock
- Salt - to taste
- Pour the oil into a large saucepan and heat up to a medium-high heat.1 tbsp oil
- Chuck the onion in and cook until softened.1 onion
- Now put in the garlic, ginger, chilli and the spices and cook for another minute.4 cloves garlic, 1 inch ginger, 1 tsp mild chilli powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp garam masala, 2 tsp ground coriander, 4 tsp ground turmeric
- Pour in the passata, coconut milk, stock and lentils, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer - cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.400 ml coconut milk, 500 g passata, 1 cup red lentils, 250 ml vegetable stock
- Add the cauliflower and cook for another 15 minutes, and season to taste.400 g cauliflower
- Stir in the spinach until wilted, then serve.100 g spinach
- This meal can be kept in the fridge for 3 days in an airtight container or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to defrost and reheat thoroughly before serving.
- Be sure to rinse the lentils in a sieve before adding them to the pan, until the water runs clear.
- Sub out the cauliflower for aubergine or broccoli. If using aubergine, chop into cubes then bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes before adding to the curry.
- Increase or decrease the amount of chilli used to tailor it to your liking!