This delicious and mild curry is busting with nutritional delights; butternut squash is high in vitamins A, B6, and C, folate, magnesium, fiber, riboflavin, phosphorus, and potassium; red lentils are packed with phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre all of which help support a healthy balanced diet.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and ginger is widely recognised for having anti-Inflammatory properties and helping with the reduction of muscle pains. Spinach is a great source of vitamin K, A, C and folate, and is also a good source of iron and B, all of which help the body to restore energy and improve the quality of the blood, largely due to the high iron content.
So, I think it is clear to see why I adored eating this hearty healthy meal during my chemotherapy days. I really felt I was doing my bit to give my body its best chance and it tastes great too.
It takes quite a bit of prep, the most challenging part being the cutting of the butternut squash; during chemo days, I would get help with this part. My sister gave me this recipe and I was also very lucky that my sister would come regularly to cook this for me. It is a great gift to make for a friend during treatment; to me it says “here’s my warm embrace to help your body rejuvenate cells”
Serves 4 -6
1 lt of organic chicken stock – homemade is ideal if possible
1 large or two small butternut squash
500g red lentils – you could swap with other lentils if you don’t have red, but the final texture will be a little different
3 medium onions
3 garlic cloves
4 large pieces of ginger
3 – 4 tbsp coconut oil – or olive oil if you don’t have coconut
2 tins of coconut milk
A bag of fresh spinach
Optional extra – king prawns
Lime wedges to serve
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp whole cloves or ground clove
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tbsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
- First, make the spice mix: de-shell the cardamom pods, mix with the whole cloves and mustard seeds and grind to a fine powder in a pestle & mortar then mix with the remaining spice mix ingredients. To save a little time for next time, double the quantity and store in an airtight container – make sure you label it!
- Heat a heavy based pan and add the spice mix for a few moments, then add the coconut oil and the chopped onions, fry gently for 5 – 7 minutes until softened.
- Add the chopped ginger, crushed garlic, stir and cook for a further two minutes.
- Add the coconut milk, the chicken stock and the chopped butternut squash and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
- Then add the lentils and stir well and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the squash and lentils are soft, and cooked through.
- If using, add the king prawns, and cook for 2-3 mins if raw or 1 min if cooked
- Finally, place the spinach on top for 1 – 2 minutes until it has wilted slightly – not too much so that it retains all the goodness.
- Serve in a bowl with a wedge of lime.
Serve with quinoa or try it with some brown basmati rice sprinkled with some chopped fresh coriander. A side salad of deseeded cucumber, finely chopped red onion and fresh coriander stirred through some natural yoghurt goes well too. The curry freezes well – but if you are planning to freeze some, remove it from the pan before adding the spinach as it will lose its texture.