Vegetable Gurry Thali

Here are three vegetable curries – a spicy potato curry, a spinach stir-fry and a lentil dish – that, when served with some plain boiled rice, combine well to make a complete vegetarian meal for 4 people.

All the dishes reheat successfully and you can always add further variety by serving an onion and tomato salad with some minted garlic yoghurt on the side and, if the fancy takes, a couple of crunchy pappadums that you buy in a packet and briefly deep-fry.


For the Spiced Lentils

  • 225 g/ 8 oz red lentils
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp asafoetida
  • salt

For the Spicy Potato Curry

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 450 g/ 1 lb potatoes, cut into 2-cm / ¾-inch dice
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed and chopped
  • 4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp cardamom seeds
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt

For the Spinach Stir-fry

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 3-cm / -inch piece of peeled root ginger, cut into strips
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp ground fenugreek
  • 450 g/ 1 lb spinach
  • fresh coriander leaves, to serve


Start by making the spiced lentils: put the red lentils in a pan with the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Cover by 3 cm / ¼ inches with cold water, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20–30 minutes, until the lentils turn yellow and start to mush.

Meanwhile, fry the chopped onion in the sunflower oil until soft and translucent. Add the chopped chillies, garlic, pepper, mustard seeds and asafoetida. Fry briskly until the seeds start to pop and jump, then scrape into the lentils. Stir in, taste, season with salt and keep warm.

Make the spicy potato curry: heat the oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat. Put the potatoes and onions in the pan to fry, tossing and stirring until done, then add the garlic.

Meanwhile, in another dry frying pan, toast the coriander, cumin, fennel and cardamom seeds in a dry pan over a low heat.

Grind to a powder and add, with the turmeric and salt, to the potato mixture. Keep warm.

Make the spinach stir-fry: put the oil into a pan and, when smoking-hot, add the ginger, garlic and fenugreek. Immediately add the spinach and stir and toss until it wilts.

Serve all three dishes together, as soon as the spinach is ready, with some fresh coriander leaves.