This lentil and potato curry with spinach is delicious, warming and filling. Made with green lentils, potatoes and spinach this vegan and gluten-free curry is great for a tasty weekend dinner.
If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that I'm a big fan of lentils. Being a veggie, they are an important part of my diet. So I add them to as many recipes as I can! We love them in soups, curries and even in pasta!
This potato and lentil curry takes a bit longer than my usual curry recipes but it's definitely worth the wait. The result is a rich Indian style curry that is truly scrumptious!
The spices in this curry are well balanced and the coconut cream adds a lovely cooling effect, making this curry mild enough for the whole family to enjoy it. But if you want it to be hotter I have some tips for you to make that happen!
📝 What Do We Need
- Potatoes - It's important to use a waxy potato for this curry as you want the potato to hold it's shape and not fall apart or break down into mash. I use Desiree potatoes, yukon gold or new potatoes would also work well.
- Lentils - I use canned green or brown lentils for this recipe, but you can use dried red lentils if you want. If you are using dried lentils then you will need to add them eariler so that they cook in the curry.
- Coconut Cream - the smooth, thick and rich consistency of coconut cream is perfect for this curry but you can use coconut milk if you prefer.
- Spinach - fresh is best here but if you only have frozen spinach then use that. I would defrost it and remove and steam if first before stirring it into the curry.
- Spices - there are a lot of spices in this dish, if you make a lot of curries you will likely have most of these already. If you want to avoid buying all the spices new I woud use a curry paste such as rogan josh or tikka masala instead.
🔪 How To Make It
This is just a quick visual step by step guide, please see the recipe card for full instructions.
1. Cook the onions until soft. Meanwhile, toast the cardamom, coriander, mustard, cumin and fennel seeds in a dry pan then use a pestle and mortar to break them down. Once the onion is soft add the garlic and ginger then add all the spices.
2. Next add the chopped potatoes to the pan and make sure they are covered in the spices. Then pour in the chopped (diced) tomatoes plus half a can of water. Stir well and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often.
3. Now add the lentils, stir well.
4. Finally, add the coconut cream and simmer for about 15 - 20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through. Once the potatoes are cooked, stir in the spinach along with a squeeze of lemon juice and check the seasoning. Once the spinach is wilted the curry is ready to serve.
👩🍳 Expert Tips
- Toasting the spices whole before you grind them in a pestle and mortar wakes up the spices and hugely improves the flavour of this curry.
- Make sure you cut the potatoes into evenly sized pieces, this will ensure that they are all cooked at the same time. And remember, the smaller you cut the potatoes the quicker they will cook.
- If you want to make this in less time then I recommend par boiling the potatoes first.
- Waxy potatoes can appear hard even when cooked, to check if your potatoes are cooked use a fork or sharp knife to poke one of the potatoes, the knife should slide easily through the potato if cooked.
- If you are using precooked lentils, don't add them too early to the curry as they will just turn to mush. The same goes for dried red lentils, they cook quite quickly so think about the timing when you add them.
- Cover the pan when you are cooking the potatoes, this will help them cook quicker.
- Stir this curry often - the lentils will naturally fall to the bottom of then pan, so stirring will avoid them sticking to the bottom and burning.
📌 Substitutions & Variations
- If you don't have all the spices for this recipe you can use a curry paste instead, rogan josh or tikka masala paste would work really well.
- Don't like lentils? Try cooked chickpeas instead!
- You could also try this with sweet potatoes, you will need to reduce the cooking time though as they cook a lot faster than regular waxy potatoes.
- Want more veggies in this? Add in mushrooms, peppers, peas or aubgerine (eggplant).
- Add kale or cavolo nero instead of spinach, just adapt cooking times to suit.
- Want this curry hotter? Add some chopped green chilli pepper to the dish when you add the garlic and ginger. One chilli should do the trick.
Yes, you can. Ground spices typically don't have as much flavour as the seeds so I would use a little more than the quantity listed.
Yes, you can. But, there may be some changes in the potatoes when you defrost and reheat them. I find the potatoes a little grainy after freezing so I tend not to freeze this dish.
Absolutely, like all good curries, this tastes even better the next day. If we do have any leftovers I will store them in the fridge and reheat them either in the microwave or on the hob. You may need to add a little water to loosen it up. Leftovers can be kept for 2-3 days.
🍽 More Tasty Curry Recipes
If you loved this curry then you might want to check out some of my other curry recipes. My Red Lentil Dal has been one of the most popular curries on here since I first published it! Another great vegan curry is my Jackfruit Curry with Sweet Potatoes, this is another very popular curry. Finally, my family's favourite is this Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry, this always goes down a treat.
Lentil and Potato Curry
- 2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
- 1 medium brown onion peeled cut in half lengthways then sliced.
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 5 cardamon pods
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp mild chilli powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 2 or 3 cloves of garlic (add more if you love garlic) put through a garlic press or minced.
- 1 x 2 inch piece of ginger peeled then finely grated.
- 3 medium (410g) waxy potatoes peeled then cut into small bite-size chunks.
- 1 x 400g (14.5 oz) can of chopped(diced) tomatoes + fill the can half way with water once emptied.
- 1 x 400g ( 1 x 15oz) can of cooked green lentils drained weight (265g)
- ½ tsp brown sugar optional
- 250 ml (1 x 7oz carton) of coconut cream
- 70 g (2 firmly packed cups) of baby spinach leaves
- ½ a medium lemon, the juice of
- 1 tsp sea salt + more if needed
- ½ tsp ground black pepper + more if needed
- Tap the cardamon pods with the pestle to open the pods. Remove the seeds.Heat a dry pan over low heat, add the cardamom seeds, 2 teaspoons of mustard seeds, 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds and 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds.Toast the seeds until they release their aromas, toss them often in the pan. Be careful not to burn the seeds. Tip the seeds into a mortar.
- Heat the oil in a large saute pan.Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until the onion is softened.
- While the onion is cooking crush the seeds in the mortar using the pestle, they don't need to be a powder just roughly crushed will do.Peel and chop the potatoes. Grate the ginger and put the garlic through a garlic press.
- Once the onions have softened, add the ginger and garlic, cook for a minute then add the spices from the mortar and the remaining ground spices (1 teaspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of garam masala, ½ a teaspoon mild chilli powder, ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves).Cook for a minute then add the potatoes to the pan. Toss the potatoes to ensure they are covered in the spices. Next pour in the tomatoes. Fill the can up with water and add that to the pan too. Add the remaining salt and black pepper, and stir well.Pop the lid on the pan and simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Stirring often.
- After 20-25 minutes pour the lentils into the pan, stir them into the sauce.Now slowly pour the coconut cream into the curry stirring all the time. Once the coconut cream has been added simmer the sauce without the lid on for another 15 minutes, make sure to stir the curry often now as the lentils can drop to the bottom of the pan and stick to it. The sauce should be thick now. If it isn't thick enough simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Check the seasoning now and add more salt if needed.If you are using the sugar add it in now. Now add the spinach, stir in one handful at a time, once the spinach has wilted repeat until you have added all the spinach. Stir in the jucie of half a lemon now.Once the spinach has wilted and the potatoes are cooked the curry is ready.Serve with a garnish of coriander (cilantro), rice, chapati or naan.
- Recipe Inspiration - This recipe is roughly adapted from Melissa Hemsley's recipe for New Potato and Lentil Coconut Curry. I made the following changes: left out the curry leaves, changed the spice quantities slightly and added garam masala, used less garlic, swapped tomato puree for a can of chopped tomatoes, swapped red lentils for green, swapped coconut milk for coconut cream, left out the stock and swapped new potatoes for regular and added spinach.
- Spices - If you can't find some of the whole spices in your local store you can substitute them for the round version. Except for the cardamom seeds.
- Leftovers - Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 2 - 3 days. I usually reheat this in the hob or in the microwave. You may need to add some water to the curry to loosen it up a bit.
- Freezing - If we do have any leftovers you can freeze them once cooled. But, there may be some changes in the potatoes when your reheat them. I find the potatoes a little grainy after freezing so I tend not to freeze this dish.
- Heat - If you want to make this curry hotter I would add a finely chopped green chilli to the pan when you add the garlic and ginger.
- Nutritional information - is calculated using an online nutrition tool and is approximate. It does not include rice, naan or chapati.
- Weights and measurements - For US readers, I use Cuisipro measuring cups and spoons, and a Pyrex measuring jug for liquids. These are the industry standard. Cup/spoon volumes can differ from brand to brand, for accuracy, I recommend weighing all ingredients if possible for best results.