Meatless Monday: Slow Cooker Sambar [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 6
Prep: ≤35 mins
Cooking Time: 2-3 hours (*On a high S.C setting)
Type: Main meal
Tools: Chopping board, sharp knife, veggie peeler, two pots, measuring jug, food processor, slow cooker

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and per serving is low in added sugar and salt! 

Happy Monday everyone! We hope that you’ve all had a great weekend? We are feeling pretty prepared for the weekend ahead and are really looking forward to enjoying some great food and reconnecting with some faces we haven’t seen in a while! 🙂 

Today we have a delicious and nutritious South Indian lentil and vegetable-based slow cooker curry recipe for you. We’ve been playing with sambar recipes for quite a while now and think that this one is pretty tasty! It’s particularly good for those that love spicy (although not completely paralysing meals) and lighter curries! This is down to the fact that it doesn’t comprise of any heavy sauces (no cream or butter!) or large quantities of added oils; it relies on so many great spices (as hot as preferred), including some tasty tamarind! We’ve used a store-bought tamarind paste this time, but check out this previous curry recipe on how to prepare tamarind pulp! Authentic versions of this curry are prepared with yellow lentils, a sambar powder mix (which has a few varied ingredients than what we have included) and is usually finished off with a tempered spice mix which includes a little more oil (more than we have used) and some curry leaves!  

Quite honestly, this curry feels more like a ‘lentil stew’ than curry, especially if you do not serve it with rice or some type of bread- although we thoroughly recommend that you do! It’s also very versatile, so do not feel that you have to use the same vegetables; baby turnips would make a great, tasty and lower G.I substitute to white potatoes! It’s good to note that the desiccated coconut adds a fair bit of saturated fat to the dish, so please use less of it if you want to make this meal low in fat; to further this point we would also recommend serving this curry with some plain brown basmati or wholemeal rice instead of heavier/oily breads.

As we like to control the quantity of spice used in our cooking, we never really add really hot chillies (like a bird’s eye!) to our dishes, we would rather drizzle over some infused chilli oil or add some chilli flakes just before serving. However, if you are braver than us, try using a hotter chilli and/or chilli powder or more chilli flakes to the curry before cooking!

We hope that you find this to be a tasty and quick alternative to the your current festive dishes on offer and perhaps a great recipe to have on stand-by for any post-Christmas parties or delicious New Year meals ahead!

Happy cooking everyone! 🙂



Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂




Peel and dice the garlic and onion. Wash, remove the stem and dice the chilli. Wash the lentils in a sieve and then remove any seeds or stones.



Place a large non-stick pot with 450ml water over a medium heat. Cover with a lid. Bring to the boil. Add the garlic, onion, chilli, lentils, 3g curry powder and ½ tsp salt. Stir together. Cover with the lid. Simmer and cook for 15-20 mins or until the lentils are tender. Remove from the heat.



In the meantime, heat a separate non-stick pot or frying pan over a medium heat and get your curry paste spices and desiccated coconut ready. When the pot becomes hot, add the spices and coconut. Dry fry this mixture for about 1-2 mins or until the coconut is lightly toasted.



Transfer the mixture into a food processor. Processor until the mixture becomes fine and grainy. Whilst the food processor is still running, add 1 tbsp of oil and 1 cup of water. Process until the ingredients are thoroughly combined, forming a paste. Leave for the moment. Tip: This is your curry paste!



Wash, peel, trim the ends and dice the carrot. Wash, remove the stem and core and then dice the bell pepper. Wash, peel and cube the potato. Wash, remove the stem (if applicable) and then quarter the tomatoes. Place 20-25g tamarind paste into a measuring jug with 5 tbsp of water. Mix to dissolve.



Place the carrot, bell pepper and potatoes into a slow cooker. Add the lentil mixture, curry paste and tamarind mixture. Stir and thoroughly combine. Top with the tomatoes. Slightly press and submerge them into the liquid. Cover with a lid. Cook on a high heat setting for 2-3 hours. NB: Ours took 2.5hrs to cook! 



Snap the beans into halves and then defrost them. Add the beans to the slow cooker during the last 30 mins of cooking. Alternatively, steam and stir them through the curry just before serving.



Serve with brown basmati rice, wholegrain pitta,  flatbread or a dosa. Garnish with a slice of lime, chilli infused oil (chilli flakes steeped in 1-2 tsp of rapeseed oil!) and/or fresh coriander leaves (if preferred!). 🙂


Tip: Refrigerate any leftovers in an air-tight and resealable container; reheat and consume within 3 days. Alternatively, store and freeze; defrost, reheat and consume within 2 months.

Recipe updated: 19/02/16

Butternut Squash & Spinach Curry

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 4
Prep & Cooking time: 65-75minutes

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C, E & K, protein, fibre, potassium, magnesium, iron, some calcium, no added sugars and is low in saturated fats!

This curry is simple and delicious! Its very ‘light’ and makes an ideal ‘starter recipe’ to get you cooking more South Asian cuisine! Please do not feel that you have to use tamarind, especially in this form; buying it like this saves you money though. Preparing a paste from the pulp won’t add too much extra prep time either (maybe 5 minutes)! You can still make this curry without it, just season and flavour it to your own personal taste.


NB: Oue  garam masala spice mix and fresh coriander are missing. *The coriander is coming straight out of my freezer and I am making my own garam blend!




+++++++++++++++++++++++++50g      Tamarind pulp
+++++++++++++++++++++++++250ml  Boiling water
+++++++++++++++++++++++++160g     Frozen spinach
+++++++++++++++++++++++++300g    White onion
+++++++++++++++++++++++++40g       Root ginger
+++++++++++++++++++++++++8g         Garlic cloves
+++++++++++++++++++++++++1000g   Butternut Squash
+++++++++++++++++++++++++10g        Fresh coriander
+++++++++++++++++++++++++              1kcal Fry Spray (low-fat cooking oil)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++200g    Brown basmati rice (uncooked)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++4g         Garam Masala spice mix
+++++++++++++++++++++++++2g         Black mustard seeds
+++++++++++++++++++++++++400ml  Vegetable stock (low-sodium/DF/GF)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++20g       Flaked almonds



Nutritional info (inclusive of the curry and the rice):

*Based on 4 servings, this recipe provides:
422kcal, 11g Protein, 5.3g Fat, 0.71g Sat/fat, 0.73g Salt, 5.2mg Iron/ serving




Cut a piece of the pulp off of the slab.


Place the pulp into a bowl.


Add the boiling water. Allow it to soak for approximately 30 minutes, or until softened.

NB: You can soak yours for 15 minutes if desired. I prefer the flavours I get from a 30 minute soak.


In the meantime, place the spinach into a microwavable bowl. Defrost in the microwave. Drain. NB: If using fresh spinach, wash it in a colander and then allow it to drain.


Meanwhile, peel and finely dice the onions. Wash, peel and grate the ginger. Peel and crush the garlic. Peel, trim the ends, de-seed and chop the squash into bite-sized chunks. Wash, dry and roughly chop the coriander.

NB: I cheated… I used my food processor to dice the onions!


NB: This is what our pulp looked like after 30 minutes.

Yes…it doesn’t look very pretty!


Get another bowl and a fine sieve….


Pour the contents of the bowl with the pulp through the sieve into the second bowl.


With a fork, gently press against the tamarind pulp; hard enough to push the pulp through the sieve (collecting a paste in the water), separating it from its thick membranes, husk and seeds.

NB: I can only commit to this for about 1-2 minutes! Some people will push, squeeze and separate all of the pulp from the seeds and only use the reserved paste (and not the water)…that is their prerogative! For me, the juice and the amount of paste I have gathered is enough to enhance the flavours of this curry. 🙂


Keep the water with the paste. Discard the contents of the sieve.


Meanwhile, heat a large, non-stick saucepan over a medium-low heat. Spray some low-fat cooking oil. Add the onion, ginger and garlic. Gently fry for 1-2 minutes or until softened.

NB: I used ‘3 sprays’.


In the meantime, prepare the rice according to the packet instructions.

NB: I  flavoured my rice by adding 6 cardamom pods before cooking; remove before serving.  Just remember to count them before you put them in!


Add the garam masala and the mustard seeds.


Stir together. Gently fry for 1 minute or until fragrant.


Add the reserved paste and its water, squash and the stock. Stir together. Bring to the boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes or until the squash is tender.


In the meantime, place a small frying pan over a medium-high heat. When its hot, add the nuts. Stir and gently dry-fry them until lightly toasted. Remove and transfer into a small dish.


Add the spinach and coriander about 2 minutes before the end of cooking (this will allow the spinach to wilt slightly before serving; if using fresh). Cover with the lid.


Remove from the heat. Allow it to rest 5-10 minutes with the lid on (if you have time). I always find the flavours taste best when the meal is not boiling hot!


Serve warm. Place the curry into a small dish. Garnish with the nuts and some coriander (if desired) and serve along side the rice. Alternatively, place the rice into a large serving bowl, cover it with the curry and garnish with the nuts.

NB: This picture provides 1 serving (based on this recipe serving 4). * I found some coriander and garlic flavoured pita bread to serve with ours 🙂





Refrigerate in a resealable container and consume within 3 days.


If preferred…

  • Make this curry one day ahead if you are short on time; things always taste better the next day anyways!
  • Use any type of South Asian spice and/or flavouring you desire!
  • Try using fresh spinach instead of frozen and pumpkin instead of butternut squash.
  • Try adding some brown lentils to this dish to increase the iron content!
  • Serve with some plain/unsweetened soya yoghurt and half a GF pita bread if desired. NB: We recommended pita because typical ‘naan bread’ (a.k.a. Indian leavened flat bread) normally contains quite of bit of fat and/or salt!