Recipe: Spinach and butternut squash dhal

There’s no getting around it: this isn’t the prettiest dish. It looks mushy and a bit beige. But, like some of the best meals, it’s comforting, warming, wholesome and satisfying, not to mention quick and easy to prepare with a 5-step recipe. Enjoy this dhal served with rice – short grain brown rice is my current favourite – or a soft, pillowy naan.

img_2774This freezes well, or can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. I’ve been popping a portion into my lunchbox with some cooked rice this week, and re-heating in the microwave at work. Omit the honey to veganise the dhal. Top with crispy bits of bacon if you’re feeling fancy. Enjoy!


Spinach and squash dhal


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 350g-400g butternut squash, peeled and cored, and cut into small cubes (approx 2cm)
  • 100g dried red lentils
  • 1 tsp garam masala spice mix
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 500ml hot vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 100g fresh spinach
  • Sea salt and pepper to season
  • To garnish: nigella (black onion) seeds, fresh coriander leaves


  • Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for a few minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the chopped butternut squash, lentils, garam masala and turmeric, stir everything together, and allow to cook for about a minute.
  • Add the stock, stir well, and allow the dhal to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the pieces of squash are tender. You may need to add a little more water or stock during cooking if the dhal reduces a lot.
  • A few minutes before serving, stir in the honey, and then the spinach. Remove from the heat when the spinach has fully wilted down.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve sprinkled with the nigella seeds and a scatter of coriander leaves.

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