Lentil and spinach Daal, 66p.


So, if you’ve made the Beetroot, Feta and Lentil salad that I kicked off my Guardian recipe column with – or you have some lentils and spinach still kicking about, here’s a recipe for a quick warming winter dinner. It’s easy and filling – I love mine with pitta breads dunked in…

Ingredients (serves two):

1 onion
1 red chilli or pinch of dried flakes
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp cumin or turmeric, or a tsp each if you have them
100g red split lentils
1 chicken stock cube
200ml water
200ml natural yoghurt
130g spinach
1 tbsp lemon juice

First, peel and finely slice the onion, and finely chop the chilli, and add to a large frying pan or sauté pan with the spices and crumbled stock cube. Cook on a gentle heat for 10 minutes, until the onions have softened.

Thoroughly rinse the lentils and add to the pan, turn the heat up to medium, and stir through. Toast for a few minutes, before adding half the water (100ml). Stir in quickly – it will absorb quite fast.

Chop the spinach and add to the pan (if using frozen spinach just put it straight in, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it starts to cook). Add the remaining water and stir through, until the spinach is wilted and the lentils are swollen.

Stir the yoghurt in and serve with fresh herbs – coriander or parsley or mint work well if you have them to hand – and a shake of lemon juice.

Leftovers can be thinned with a little stock to make a delicious soup, or tossed through pasta. Keep in the fridge for 2 days or freeze in an ice cube tray for easy portions.

Ingredient cost breakdown (calculated at Sainsburys but similar prices available at other supermarkets): 1 loose onion 11p. Bird eye chillies 75p for 10 (8p each). Vegetable or sunflower oil £4.50/3l (3p/tbsp). 42g cumin £1 (10p for 2 tsp). 500g split red lentils £1.09 (22p for 100g). 10 Basics stock cubes 20p (2p each). 500ml natural yoghurt 45p (18p for 200ml). 260g spinach £1 (50p for 130g). 250ml lemon juice 60p (4p/tbsp). 6 Pitta breads 22p (4p each). Total cost of ingredients used: £1.32.

To use up remaining ingredients, or if you have something in your cupboard to use up, search using the search bar below!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack


  1. Yummy. Another great value dish which I will be trying out ASAP. Thank you so much for these cost effective recipes. You are an absolute lifesaver!

  2. Sitting here at 10am with my tummy rumbling… will now be rummaging through the cupboards to see if we’ve got everythign we need to make this for lunch! Can the red lentils be replaced bby brown ones? *Scheens*

    • Jack awesome recipe! As an alternative to yoghurt coconut goes really well with spinach & dal. Grind some (about 2/3 teaspoons) grated coconut with one green chilli and 1/4 tsp of cum seeds & 20 seeds of yellow split peas( soak this for this atleast 30 mins first). If u cant grind coconut skip the above and add some coconut milk instead. And Rez dal does mean raw lentil not just prepared ones 🙂

      • thanks so much. I love the sound of this recipe but was worried I couldn’t make it as I am a vegan and can’t afford expensive vegan yogurt, if they even stock it near to me.

  3. This is almost identical to my Lentil Soup!

    Double the lentils (200g) and use a litre of stock, and no yoghurt/spinach.

    If it’s looking a little anaemic, and you’ve got some, put a squirt of tomato puree in there. If you don’t, no problem, it’s just yellow rather than red.

    You can keep it in the fridge for a couple of days. It’s cheap, filling, and even the kids like it! All for 84p too!

  4. I’m making this tonight!! Also the soda bread from the other day! Yum!!

    Jack, I love the new blog look, but is there a way to get rid of the grey ‘Follow…’ box at the bottom right? I already follow, but it’s still there and it bugs me!! And there isn’t a close button on it.

    • Didn’t get to it yesterday, but made both this and the soda bread today, absolutely bloody gorgeous, thank you!! I used a veg stock cube and tinned spinach, and did twice the quantity so we have some for tomorrow (dhal on toast, one of my faves!!)

  5. thank you jack. i notice that lentils are always so much cheaper if you live anywhere near an indian shop or continental deli. you can get 2 kilos for 2 quid. yw and thank you pete smith for the extra tips

  6. I’ve made something similar for years – if you splash out on low salt stock cubes it can also be used as a weaning food (May need puree-ing for very little ones) so the whole family can enjoy!

  7. Oh, and I forgot to add, leftovers can be made into pasties by putting a spoonful onto rounds of shortcrust pastry (cheapest to make with lard, flour and water), folding and baking for 15mins 🙂

  8. I’m going to try this without the chicken stock and yoghurt. Agree with the comment above re cheaper ways of buying lentils. It goes the same for rice.

    Jack, I notice that you priced this for fresh spinach not frozen. In the past your recipes have shown the cheapest option. Is there a reason for the change? I have always bought fresh spinach but after discovering that frozen spinach from tesco was £1/kilo I switched. Tesco fresh spinach is £5per kg!!!!!

    • I usually use frozen, but bought the fresh for the Guardian beetroot salad recipe so had half a bag left – as it was a ‘leftovers’ recipe from those ingredients, I thought it would be disingenuous to price it as frozen (despite having some in the freezer!) when I actually used the fresh stuff. It would be MUCH cheaper with frozen spinach! 🙂

  9. Sounds yum! Will be having a go at this all store cupboard ingredients and I still have loads of chard in the garden so will use the leaves instead of spinach. If anyone has any space to plant outside chard grows really easily from seed, i got loads from half a packet of seeds and you don’t need green fingers if I can grow it anyone can 🙂 It keeps growing well into the winter. I use it to replace spinach in recipes, use little leaves in salad and brilliant in stir frys

  10. Just made this for lunch with my 8 year old son who wants to learn more cooking “in case I don’t get married mummy”. LOL! It was lovely – didn’t use the yogurt as I am dairy free but it was still totally yummy. Can’t wait for your book….

  11. Great recipe! For anyone lucky enough to grow their own beetroot, the ultimate in economy would be to use the beetroot tops from your last dish in this one.

    • I was tempted to drink this it was so tasty. Think I’ll use this as a weaning recipe for my 6 month old, minus the stock. Thanks again.

  12. We made your beetroot, feta and lentil salad recipe for dinner tonight — delicious, and a new way to cook beetroot for me — thanks.

  13. Looks delicious. I like to do a version with yellow split peas (much cheaper than red lentils) and have you tried using chick pea/ gram flour as a base to thicken a dry vegetable curry? Scrummy – will send you a recipe if you’d like to try!

  14. Jack,

    I wondered, if you had an abundance of free spices to use up (as we do), would you add any others, or just keep it simple as it is?

    • It would work well with any combination of dried coriander, fenugreek, garlic, turmeric, cumin or garam masala – experiment with what you have, a little at a time. Remember you can add more but it’s hard to take away!

      • Crikey, I’ve not got the oil hot yet but I’ve had a reply!

        Thanks Jack, you’re a treasure.

      • I used cumin and cardamom and garlic. I made a big quantity and added too much water so it was more like a soup, but everyone raved about it. This followed the great success with the aubergine curry. Two new staple recipes. Thanks.

  15. Thanks for your comments on the yoghurt,,,,I don’t uaually have it in the house on hand, nor the coconut milk, I was trying to do it without going out to shop….but I have single soya cream, would that substitute or would it be too runny? I can see how Chopped Toms would do the trick…like you say, slightly different flavour, but still nice. Glad your using dry lentils, as I don’t ever have tinned on hand either 🙂 Thanks for sharing, I’ve found your recipes delicious to date!

    • I think soya cream would be ok consistency-wise, me self, I used cheapy low fat yoghurt which is pretty runny, but is the cream sweetened? Probably still be nice. These recipes are great, aren’t they!!

    • You can make fake yoghurt by adding lemon juice to milk, like I do. As you say, it saves going to the shop! 😀

  16. I’m being thick. I’ve never used lentils before so would you cook them before adding them to this dish? I have the dry ones. Thanks.

  17. Oh good, that’s what I’ve done. How long do they need and should they still have a bit of bite or be a bit mushy? Thanks x

  18. Thank you, it was delicious, my two girls gave it a try too, made a welcome change from pasta or fish fingers!

  19. Delicious, thank you! I can recommend using non-dairy cream instead of the yoghurt (my son’s allergic to dairy). I used oat cream, which tasted nice too, though it did make it more runny, as someone pointed out above. I prefer it with the yoghurt though (already made it three times, I’m hooked!).

  20. If you have any Indian/Asian grocery shops nearby, check them out for MUCH cheaper spices. You can also get a greater variety of curry pastes for cheaper than supermarket prices (eg: £1-1.50 instead of £2+, same size jars), which are great for lazy cooking days. And, as others have mentioned, pulses (and rice!) are much cheaper there too.

    If you fancy using coconut milk in a recipe, you can buy “creamed coconut” (not to be confused with “coconut cream”) which is a form of dried coconut milk. You can add it to water to make coconut milk or cream (depends on how much water you add) or you can add it straight to a curry/daal. It’s normally 60-70p per box, which makes over a litre of coconut milk, much cheaper than buying it by the can.

  21. No spinach at the farm shop, so I’ve stuck a load of kale in instead. Also, had half a can of coconut milk in the fridge that needed using up, so that’s going in instead of the yogurt. Fingers crossed it tastes alright!

  22. I’d like to make this but i’m vegetarian. Is the stock cube essential? Many thanks.

  23. Just made (and eaten) this, best thing I’ve had in ages! Used coconut milk instead of yoghurt 🙂 Thanks Jack! Just bought your book x

  24. Would it be possible to make this from yellow split peas? If so, would I need to make any changes other than pre-soaking the split peas?

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