Ainsley Harriott’s cauliflower, butternut squash and spinach dhansak

He’s adding some spice to your Friday night! Ainsley Harriot’s back in the kitchen with the perfect alternative to your weekend takeaway - his cauliflower, butternut squash & spinach dhansak.

Cauliflower and butternut dhansak

Serves: 4


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

350g butternut squash, chopped into 2cm cubes

½ tsp ground turmeric

1 tbsp curry paste

1 ½ tbsp tamarind paste

100g red split lentils

600ml hot vegetable stock

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

To serve

Basmati rice


1. Toss the cauliflower florets in half of the garam masala. 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.

2. Add a little more oil to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook the onions for 4-6 minutes until beginning to soften and brown. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli and squash and cook for another 2-3 minutes. 

3. 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, 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 and half the lemon juice and cook for a further 3-5 minutes. 

4. Stir in the spinach until just wilted and check the seasoning. Add the coriander and remaining lemon juice to taste and serve with basmati rice.