If you’re looking for easy vegetarian dinners, this is a must-try! Lentil spinach stew with rice is a delicious plant-based recipe that’s super nutritious and easy to make.
What is paruppu keerai kootu?
Paruppu and keerai are the Tamil words for lentils and spinach respectively. Kootu, on the other hand, is a Tamil word that means to a mixture of things. It usually refers to dishes that combine lentils with vegetables, in this case, spinach.
So, paruppu keerai kootu translated into English is lentil spinach stew. This dish combines lentils and spinach to create a hearty and healthy stew that’s vegetarian-friendly.
I love this stew mainly because it’s power-packed with both plant-based protein (from the lentils) and greens (thanks to the spinach), so when paired with rice, it creates a well-rounded, balanced meal.
Why you should include more lentils in your diet
Did you know that lentils are rich in protein and fiber? It’s the perfect ingredient to have in your pantry to make protein-packed vegetarian meals at home. Lentils are also an affordable protein alternative to meat.
I always have mysore dhal (red lentils) in my pantry, so I can whip up a hearty lentil stew anytime. These lentils cook quite quickly which is an added plus.
What can I do with a bunch of fresh spinach?
Spinach is another power-packed ingredient that’s great to have on hand. It’s rich in vitamin C, iron, potassium and magnesium.
You can use fresh spinach in a bunch of different ways! Just add them to your smoothie, stew, or pasta sauce for your daily dose of greens.
Can I put spinach in stew?
Yes, you can! Just add the spinach leaves at the end and cook for 2 – 3 minutes until the leaves wilt in the stew. This is a quick and easy way to add more veggies to your meals.
Ingredients for lentil spinach stew with rice
As usual, I use a combination of whole and ground spices for this recipe. For tempering (frying whole spices in hot oil to release their flavor), I use mustard, cumin, and fennel seeds. Just fry these spices for a minute or so until the mustard seeds begin to pop. As for the ground spices, I use a mix of turmeric, paprika, and curry powder.
I love using red lentils for this recipe! They produce a hearty and delicious stew. Just soak the lentils for 20 – 30 minutes before cooking to soften them and speed up the cook time. If you tend to get gassy after eating lentils or beans, here’s a tip my mum gave me. Add ¼ tsp asafoetida (also known as hing) when tempering your spices. This helps to counter the gassy or bloated feeling you may experience after eating lentils.
3 cups of spinach sound like a lot, but trust me, they wilt down to basically nothing in mere minutes! Feel free to add another cup of spinach if you prefer more greens in your stew. Spinach leaves don’t need long to cook. In just 2 – 3 minutes, they’ll wilt into the stew.
When making lentil stew, tomatoes are a must! For me, tomatoes and lentils are a match made in heaven. In this recipe, the tomatoes basically dissolve into the stew, adding to its flavor.
How to make lentil spinach stew with rice
Here’s how to make this easy lentil spinach stew:
Soak the mysore dhal (red lentils) in water for 30 minutes.
This helps to soften the lentils and quicken the cooking process.
Heat oil in a deep non-stick pot on medium-high before adding whole spices.
This is when you temper your whole spices. Basically, you’re frying the spices to release their flavor. To hot oil, add your mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and fennel seeds. Fry until the mustard seeds pop.
Add the onions, chili, and curry leaves.
Sauté until onions brown, around 8 to 10 minutes. This takes time, but it’s an important step, so be patient!
Add garlic and ginger, and sauté for 2 minutes. Then, add the chopped tomatoes.
Cook until the tomatoes begin to soften.
Add the soaked mysore dhal (red lentils) along with ground spices and salt.
Discard the soaking water before you add the lentils. This is also when you’ll need to add turmeric, paprika, curry powder, and salt. Mix well and cook for 2 – 3 minutes.
On high heat, bring to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, lower the heat to medium-low.
Cook for 25 minutes before adding the spinach leaves.
Once you add the spinach, give everything a good mix. Initially, it may look like the pot is overflowing, but the spinach leaves will quickly wilt down. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, until the spinach leaves wilt in the stew.
Finally, taste the lentil spinach stew with rice and add more salt if needed before garnishing with chopped cilantro.
Serve hot with rice.
What to serve with lentil spinach stew
My favorite way of serving this stew is over a bed of rice. This stew pairs perfectly with long-grain basmati rice.
Here are some yummy sides that you can serve along with this lentil spinach stew with rice:
Lentil Spinach Stew with Rice | Paruppu Keerai Kootu Recipe
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- 1 large red onion, diced
- 2 red chili, chopped
- 2 sprigs of curry leaves
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1-inch ginger piece, minced
- 1 tomato, chopped
- ½ cup mysore dhal (red lentils)
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 3 cups (100g) spinach
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- Soak the mysore dhal in water for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep non-stick pot on medium high before adding mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds. Fry until the mustard seeds pop.
- Add the onions, chili and curry leaves. Sauté until onions brown, around 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add garlic and ginger, and sauté for 2 minutes. Then, add the chopped tomatoes.
- Once the tomatoes soften, add the soaked mysore dhal (discard soaking water) along with turmeric, curry powder, paprika and salt. Mix well and cook for 2 – 3 minutes before adding water.
- On high heat, bring to a boil. Once the waterstarts boiling, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes, add the spinach leaves and give everything a good mix. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, until the spinachleaves wilt inthe stew.
- Finally, taste and add more salt if needed before garnishing with chopped cilantro. Serve hot with rice.
I’ll let you in on a secret: You can substitute spinach with virtually any vegetable you like!
Brinjal, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, green beans, cabbage – all these veggies are wonderful in a lentil stew. So you can use whatever you have on hand to make this lentil stew, and you can change it up every time!
Have fun making and eating your delicious ‘kootu’!