I think the Dalish Curse plays very well as-is as a first adventure for both GMs and for players. Most of the encounters in the Dalish Curse serve to introduce one aspect of the game or another or to expand upon what you've already learned in a previous encounter of the same kind. For example, the initial argument with the townspeople is an introduction to Advanced Tests. Then the blood crows while crossing the bridge serve as a way to combine Advanced Tests with combat and to show that not every combat encounter can be won by brute force. The blood crows themselves pose very little threat but they are there to make the players have to choose between staying and fighting or getting across the bridge. When I ran it, I actually had additional waves of blood crows arrive every time the players killed some off until they got the point that the crows were just going to keep coming until they got across.
I've heard a lot of people having trouble with the initial blight wolves, and my party had a little bit of difficulty, but that was just because our mage was drunk and was trying really hard not to let anyone know he was a mage (yet). I won't dwell on this since you already skipped it.
Be careful when using the villagers fight as an intro to combat. This is supposed to be where you introduce the concept of non-lethal combat and your players might be so excited to kill something that they end up slaughtering the villagers. But hey, if that happens so be it
I would agree that there is a lot of combat encounters in the Dalish Curse, but I used those as a way to introduce combat both with and without battle maps. We used a map for the villagers, the bloodcrows, and the final battle, but not for anything else. This gave both myself and the players a good feel for both styles. I don't think the map was really needed for the villagers though because as soon as their leader was knocked out, everyone else ran away.
If you've been using battle maps for other combat, I would definitely keep either the skeletons or the spider as a non-mapped combat. I'd probably lean more toward skipping the spider since the skeletons serve to express some peril within the keep itself.
I'll tell you the two pitfalls I ran into when running the Dalish Curse. First, in the heat of battle I failed miserably at making sure I told the player holding the link that it was sparking when she first got stunt points against a Rage Abomination (the spider, Elgar'nanlen, other stuff in future encounters). I actually changed the link so that it started sparking as soon as the character was within proximity of a rage abomination (aka at the start of the fight). This was much
easier for me to keep track of. I would recommend against making the link get triggered by revengers, because that means it'd be useful against all
the enemies in the final fight whereas the point is for it to be useful just against Elgar'nanlen (incorrectly Mythallen in the book).
Second, I pretty much skipped the entire hazards section on the way back from the keep to Vintiver and I regret it. I just couldn't come up with anything on the fly. I'd recommend deciding on some hazards they're going to run into in advance so you're not on the spot (unless you're really good at on-the-spot hazards).
Oh and I'll throw in a third. Combat with sentient beings shouldn't be all swinging swords and casting spells. Throw in some bad-guy banter. Elgar'nanlen was completely silent in our final battle and it would have been much more dramatic if he were spouting about slaughter and revenge the whole time.
I think that's all the advice I've got! Good luck! Though if you "want to keep the fantasy elements limited," maybe Dragon Age isn't the right game. "Fantasy" is kind of half of the "Dark Fantasy" concept