Mince, Lentil and Spinach Curry

Years ago, I found a dish in a Family Circle cookbook for a Mince and Spinach Curry. I think I made it as written a couple of times and then it began to change. I recall eating a samosa that had nutty yellow lentils in it and the next time I made this curry, I added some Channa Dahl. My Mince, Lentil and Spinach curry was born.

Mince and Lentils Dish

It’s the kind of dish that sometimes I make spicy, with the addition of cayenne pepper or, in this instance, kashmiri chilli because that’s what I’m using lately. And sometimes I just make it spicy in that way that is flavoursome without being hot. It depends on my mood. Sometimes I use just plain yellow lentils, other times, my favourite lentil, Channa Dahl. The key is using lentils that don’t mush up and disappear, although I’ve done that too, adding split red lentils as well as the yellow ones. The red ones disappear, but add something to the overall texture. I’m a total lentil addict so sometimes I just make up a mix of all the different kinds in my pantry and see what happens. It’s always good.

Really I just make it up as I go along. I’ve been known to add peas, or diced zucchini but the basic recipe stays the same.

I have to add I was pretty happy with these photos I took last night. Mince dishes, and many curries generally, are kind of hard to present in an appetising way but when I added the avocado/yoghurt mix with the coriander, I decided I’d finally found a way to make it photogenic. A photogenic curry. Fancy that!

Mince and Lentils dish

Adding the avocado and natural yoghurt mixture on top happened last night only because I’ve got a couple of avocados to use. Mostly I just put a dollop of yoghurt on it. But this really worked. I love how this dish keeps evolving. And because it’s a simmer dish, I don’t mind making it on a weeknight. I can whip it up, let it simmer until the stock is absorbed and put my feet up for an hour.

Mince, Lentil and Spinach Curry

2tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic finely chopped
2tsp ground cumin
2tsp ground coriander
2tsp ground paprika
1tsp garam masala
1 finely chopped green chilli (optional)
1 finely chopped red chilli (optional)
(If I don’t have any fresh chillis I add a chilli powder of some description to taste)
2cm piece fresh ginger grated
500g lean beef mince (I’ve used lamb before)
1 tin diced tomatoes
1litre beef stock
1 bunch English spinach (or 250g packet frozen spinach)
1 cup channa dahl or yellow lentils
Fresh Coriander

1. Saute onions in oil until golden. Add garlic and ginger, stir until softened. Add dry spices, stir through, remove.
2. In a little more oil brown the mince, breaking it up until cooked through.
3. Return onion/spice mixture and combine.
4. Add tinned tomatoes, lentils and beef stock. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for one hour, stirring now and then.
5. If using fresh spinach, rinse, remove stalks and shred, tossing through mince at the end of the hour. If cut finely it’ll cook in the mince.
6. If using frozen spinach, have it defrosted and ready to add at the end of the hour. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Serve over rice, with the addition of natural yoghurt or a combination of yoghurt and avocado.



7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stacie Newman
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 01:57:20

    Great photos, yeah! I wish I was halfway talented with a camera, because it’s hard to photograph food and keep it appetizing. I love the combination of items in the dish and think I’d try it with lamb. 8^) You’re right about red lentils though, they taste great but mush up fast.


  2. drkknits
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 05:49:06

    the idea of being a total lentil addict is so strange to me, i wish i liked them more than i do. i love a good dahl tho. this looks like a great mix of flavours though. i think i might have to try it!


  3. Adele
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 07:23:18

    This recipe looks amazing. You’re right – it’s hard to make mince look good. Thanks for the recipe and I wish I could photograph as well as you.



  4. David Hilyard
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 12:19:12

    What isn’t improved with the addition of lentils? Well, maybe Grand Marnier Souffle, but not much else. Will try making this on Saturday.


  5. Jodi
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 23:33:58

    I’m with you on lentils. Dee–licious! Indian food is just not something we Americans normally whip up, but it looks like curries and such are a staple elsewhere. As we only have 2 Indian restaurants in town, both of which are a bit of a drive and only one of which is really yummy, it seems like this is a recipe I should try. I’m also admiring your lovely rice. It’s so pretty and separate. What kind do you use?


  6. RoseRed
    Apr 06, 2011 @ 16:32:34

    Heh, a photogenic curry…I don’t think I’ll tell you what that makes me think of!

    But they are great photos, and you are right, it is hard to get good photos of curries and similar foods. And this sounds good, even I might give it a try. No chili though!! Where does one purchase channa dahl??


  7. SparkySparkler
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 20:17:47

    Delicious! I am dairy free so I mixed up some avocado with lemon juice and had that instead of the cream – highly recommended. I made with red lentils and they weren’t too mushy – I will definitely make again. Thank you for sharing 🙂


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