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Lentil & Spinach Stew


I remember I was 18 when I had my very first traditional Thanksgiving meal. It was my first year of college here in the USA and my roommate (knowing I had no plans over the break) asked me to spend Thanksgiving with her and her folks. That was my first time eating stuffing, and green bean casserole and sweet potato souffle and pumpkin pie and pecan pie! I was a starving college student and I think I ingested enough food to last me 3 months!

Growing up in Sri Lanka and Abu Dhabi, stuffing, and green bean casserole and sweet potato souffle and pumpkin pie and pecan pie didn’t really appear on my radar. In fact, Thanksgiving didn’t really appear on my radar either. We did, however, celebrate Christmas – but what was on our table was either yellow rice or biriyani or a rice pilaf similar to this, cutlets (tuna/meat and potato and veggie breaded and fried nuggets), patties (much like smaller empanadas), Chinese rolls, wattalapam (a dessert made of coconut milk, jaggery, cashew nuts, & eggs) and a variety of meat curries, and vegetable curries – which always included a version of dhal or lentil curry.

lentil and spinach stew with cardamom and cloves

Lentils made their appearance at almost every meal – and they were not to be left out from the holiday meal table either. Very often, my mom would throw in cardamoms and cloves into her lentils just before adding a tempered mix of onions, garlic, mustard seeds, spinach and ginger: now, it was this tempering mix that took the lentils from “meh” to “vavavoom”! The smells of those ingredients combining were an incredibly pleasant assault on my olfactory system – resulting in all sorts of chemical reactions in the salivary gland region – then and now!


This month The Recipe Redux challenged it’s members to share a food memory of which we were thankful for; as my mom’s recipe not only was one tasty concoction, but also an immune system booster, and one I have replicated often – I figured it was well suited. My slightly adapted version uses less water, making it more stew-like in consistency. My daughter and I often eat our lentil and spinach stew plain or mixed with some date and tamarind chutney.

Lentil & Spinach Stew

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Author: Shashi


  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger chopped
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons whole cardamoms
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach thawed


  • Add the lentils to the water and bring to a boil
  • Then lower heat (to medium) and let simmer for 10 minutes
  • In another pan, heat the olive oil
  • Add the garlic, onion, ginger and saute till onion is translucent
  • Add the cloves, cardamoms, cumin, turmeric, chili and spinach and saute a couple more minutes
  • Then add to cooked lentils and mix well
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Tag @SavorySpin or tag #savoryspin so we can share your ceation.


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  1. Howie says:

    This sounds great, I’m in! Actually I should have all ingredients at home. WIll let you know how it turned out”

  2. This looks so hearty and filling Sashi. Not to mention full of flavor! Yum!

  3. Tara says:

    I’ve made a conscious effort lately to have more vegetarian meals, so this has been added to my recipe list!

  4. jessielovestorun says:

    I always find it so intriguing when you hare stories from your childhood & life over here in the Middle East. I swear I can hardly find spinach in Kuwait. Do you remember if that ever happened to your family?

  5. I’ve actually never made lentils, I can’t believe it! This looks amazing.

  6. Ashley says:

    I love lentils and am always looking for new ways to use them! And what a great memory to go along with this – it looks fantastic! Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  7. Sarah Reid says:

    Lentils and spinach are such a divine combo!

  8. Francesca says:

    Your tradition looks delicious!

  9. This looks so good, Shashi. So many unfamiliar things to me which means I MUST try it!!

  10. Khushboo Thadani (@KhushbooThadani) says:

    Yum- love how short this recipe is Shashi 🙂 ! I’ve been all over the lentils lately- especially daal for lunch! I am sure this would be a fab alternative and something that I can actually make. The idea of making daal from scratch otherwise scares me haha!

  11. Kim says:

    So fun to hear about some of your traditions/meals growing up.
    I still have never had lentils – it’s on the list!!!

  12. Those sentimental meals are always the best 🙂 One of these days I really have to ask my mom to teach me how to many some of the more traditional Polish dishes that we eat around the holidays, because I really have no idea how to cook them! And I know what you mean about pumpkin pie, stuffing, and sweet potato soufflé not really ever appearing on the table — I didn’t know people ate those things for Thanksgiving until I started reading blogs!

  13. I love spinach dal and like you I have grown up eating lentil every day…like literally ever day! this looks fabulous!

  14. The lentil stew sounds really delicious and that gorgeous tamarind chutney on top looks really really good. The spicing would make this really special.

  15. cheri says:

    Hi Shashi, I love lentil anything, but this is really special, love the spices that you used!! Pinned!

  16. I adore lentils! This is lovely! I love the thick consistency and don’t get me started on how much I love dishes with ALL the spices 🙂

  17. spicedblog says:

    It is definitely soup and stew season in our house now, Shashi! It’s mega cold out there…which means we need all sorts of delicious stews for lunch and dinner. This version sounds awesome…and incredibly easy, too! I’ll take a bowl for lunch today, please!

  18. I love your aromatics in this hearty stew and to pair this with a date and tamirand chutney sounds divine. I love lentils but sometimes just forget about them in the pantry, thanks for the inspiration.

  19. genevieve y says:

    Mmm, this sounds delicious! I love lentils, and since I’m a vegetarian, they’re often in my veggie option. I would love to try this with some date and tamarind chutney!

  20. i could relate this so much because lentils and rice is common in Nepal the addition of spinach.

  21. I’m a big kale freak, but I don’t eat nearly enough lentils. This looks fabulous, my sweet friend!
    P.S. Your link code isn’t showing your widget. 🙁

  22. This looks great! I love lentils, and I really need to serve them more often. Thanks for the recipe.

  23. I made a stew with kale and red lentils days ago…but it looked too ugly to post. How can you make a stew look this pretty?

  24. The combination of the spices and your in-depth description of this stew really have me salivating Sashi.

    I really am becoming such a big fan of your food! 😀

  25. I love lentils and spinach together! We came to the US in the early 70’s…and Thanksgiving was a new concept to us too. Now it’s a happy family tradition that my family celebrates. We get the best of both worlds- we get to celebrate the American holidays and the Sri Lankan ones. 🙂

  26. The date and tamarind chutney sounds yummy and so does this lentil stew. I’ve done Thanksgiving from before I could remember. I suspect it’s in my DNA 🙂