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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

Lentil & Spinach Stew


  • 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


  1. Add the lentils to the water and bring to a boil
  2. Then lower heat (to medium) and let simmer for 10 minutes
  3. In another pan, heat the olive oil
  4. Add the garlic, onion, ginger and saute till onion is translucent
  5. Add the cloves, cardamoms, cumin, turmeric, chili and spinach and saute a couple more minutes
  6. Then add to cooked lentils and mix well

Did you make this recipe?

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Wednesday 26th of November 2014

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

Emily @SinfulNutrition

Monday 24th of November 2014

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


Monday 24th of November 2014

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


Sunday 23rd of November 2014

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?

Emily @ Zen & Spice

Sunday 23rd of November 2014

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

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