Cauliflower, Butternut & Spinach Dhansak

From Ainsley’s Food We Love, ITV

This is a quick and tasty veggie version of the popular sweet and sour Indian dish. Perfect for a Friday night curry!


Toss the cauliflower florets in half of the garam masala and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat and quickly fry the cauliflower until lightly browned in places. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook the onions for 6-8 minutes until beginning to soften and brown. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli and squash and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the turmeric, curry and tamarind pastes and stir through. Add the lentils, stock and sugar and return the cauliflower to the pan. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 18-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened and the vegetables and lentils are tender. Stir in the remaining garam masala, tomatoes, half the lemon juice and half the coriander and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the spinach until just wilted and check the seasoning. Add the remaining coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Serve with basmati rice.



  • 1 small cauliflower, broken into small florets (approx. 300g)
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 2-3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 5cm root ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1-2 green chillies (depending on taste), deseeded and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 350g butternut squash, chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 100g red split lentils
  • 600ml hot vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp curry paste
  • 1½ tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 80g baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • basmati rice, to serve