alanna brown nutritionist


My name is Alanna. I am a Nutritionist, Recipe Developer and Food Stylist based in Melbourne.

On my blog I like to share healthy recipes and nutrition tips. 

Businesses can contact me for nutrition consultations, recipe development and workshops.

Thanks for stopping by!

Spinach & Lentil Paruppu

Spinach & Lentil Paruppu

Fragrant with Sri Lankan and Southern Indian flavours of tumeric, curry leaves, coconut and spices, this is a super healthy and fabulously economical meal. It is full of plant-based protein, iron, Vitamin C and fibre. 

Here is my spin on my Mum's Paruppu, another word for Dahl. My mum, like many people from Sri Lanka, makes it a different way almost every time depending on what she has on hand and it is always delicious, so feel free to change it up! It is also quite fantastic to swap the spinach and lentils for chickpeas and pumpkin - or just chuck in whatever vegetables you want to use up!

Curry leaves have quite a distinctive flavour and fragrance and they are getting easier to find these days - simply ask your local grocer or find an Indian/Sri Lankan grocer or spice store. If you get the leaves fresh try to dry them out in the sun over a day or two, otherwise I have also hung them upside down in a well ventilated area until they have dried. If you cannot find them try hunting down a Sri Lankan spice mix.

To make the curry powder from scratch!

  • 1 heaped tablespoon of coriander seeds
  • 1.5 tablespoons of cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 teaspoon of peppercorns
  • 1 handful of dried curry leaves

Dry roast the ingredients in a fry pan: bring to high heat without oil and toss to ensure they are toasted evenly. The mustard seeds should start to pop and that is when you know they are ready. Remove from heat and tip into a mortar and pestle or food processor. Grind into a fine powder.

Makes about 2 serves.

This can keep for about 2-3 months if kept in a tightly closed container in a cool dark place.

You can also mix with coconut oil or olive oil and use as a marinade.

To make the paruppu

spinach and lentil paruppu

Serves 4-5

  • 1 tablespoon Coconut oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2-3 shallots, diced
  • 1 tablespoon of the curry powder
  • 2-3 green or red chillis, sliced and de-seeded
  • 3/4 cup of red lentils - although you can use any kind you like!
  • 3-4 extra curry leaves
  • 800ml coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tumeric powder or 1 tablespoon freshly grated tumeric
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 large bunch of spinach, about 4-5 packed cups washed, leaves and stems chopped


1. Bring a heavy-based saucepan to medium heat and add enough coconut oil to coat the pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring until they start to soften. Add the chilli and cook until soft.

3. Pour in the curry powder and lentils and stir to coat before adding half of the coconut milk and tumeric. Bring to a boil and then a gentle simmer. Add the brown sugar and stir through.

4. Add in the remaining coconut milk in intervals as the liquid starts to reduce. Continue to stir often to prevent sticking.

5. After about 15-20 minutes, as the lentils soften stir through the remaining coconut milk and add the spinach before popping on the lid. Leave cooking on low for about 3-5 minutes

Serve with half a cup of rice/1 cup of quinoa/flatbread or cauliflower rice and if you have any extra cumin or curry leaves - grind some up and sprinkle on top!

TIP// Be careful when handling tumeric as it can stain the hands, nails and clothing! I found mixing coconut oil and salt and scrubbing my hands to be the most effective at removing the  stains from my hands.


How did you like this recipe? Let me know below!

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