Dahl number one – Dahl with crispy sweet potato by Anna Jones – a plant based recipe

This lentil or dahl recipe is a phenomenon.
Kia ora Anna Jones.
I’ve adapted a few things like grating instead of chopping, cos i’m a mama, with a to-do/wish-list that never gets crossed off to satisfaction. Cutting corners where i can, makes my life ‘sing’ better.
Whilst talking about kids. We share our life with 3. Our youngest (boy) happily wolfs down this dahl. The two gals haven’t been so adventurous (yet).
You may be interested in this article about ‘7 tips for getting your kids to eat as well as you do‘. Thanks husband for this recent share. ^There’s hope for the gals yet.
You could adapt this article, to ‘eating more adventurously’ no matter what your  whanau’s ‘diet’ is.

We often omit the ‘quick coconut chutney’ but if we were throwing one of our crap-dinner-parties or showy-offy-ones, we have been known to make more effort, and rustle a chutney up. MUST remember to get fresh curry leaves! AND tamarind paste whilst i’m at it (not needed for this recipe, but).

Found within ‘a modern way to eatover 200 satisfying, everyday vegetarian recipes (that will make you feel amazing), by Anna Jones (the book with the tangerine inside cover).

P.S. This is still addictive without the sweet potato. So, if you’re pushed for time or the larder is bare, don’t be beaten, chin up and carry on.

Dahl with crispy sweet potato and quick coconut chutney

by Anna Jones

Serves 4

For the sweet potatoes (i use beauregard kumara or substitute with butternut/pumpkin)
* 2 sweet potatoes, skins on, washed and roughly chopped into 1.5cm cubes
* sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 tsp cumin seeds
* 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
* olive oil

For the dhal
* 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and garlic crushed
* a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
* 1 green chilli, finely chopped (use red if that’s all you have)
* 1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped (use brown if that’s all you have)
* 1 tsp cumin seeds
* 1 tsp coriander seeds (sometimes i like to keep some whole)
* 1 tsp ground turmeric
* 1 tsp ground cinnamon
* 200g lentils (i use red but any sort, except Puy, would suffice me thinks, just make sure you use all the same type, as the different sizes all cook at different speeds)
* 1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
* 400ml vegetable stock (i make my own OR use the Massel vegetable stock cubes)
* 2 large handfuls of spinach (or i use fresh rocket thrown on top as a garnish)
* a bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped, stalks and all (i use parsley or rocket if i don’t have coriander  & have either met my budget or can’t cope going back to the shops)
* juice of 1 lemon (I use lime sometimes^)

For the coconut chutney (this is the step i omit during a more mundane dinner)
* 50g unsweetened desiccated coconut
* 1 tsp black mustard seeds (i love these guys, i make a showstopper green bean, coconut dry curry with these bad boys too)
* 10 curry leaves (i have been known to leave them out, although this did induce cook’s anxiety)
* a little sunflower or coconut oil
* 20g piece of fresh ginger, grated
* 1 red chilli, finely chopped

NB: Homemade Vegetable Stock
I use the River Cottage recipe and do my best to remember to buy leeks, mushrooms and celery that week. I make a ‘load’ every 2-3 weeks, and freeze it in ice-block containers (which I know the measurement of) OR ice-cube trays i.e. one cube is 1/8 cup.

Preheat oven to 220 degrees celsius, or fan 200 degrees celsius, or gas 7.

Pop the lentils into a glass or ceramic bowl. Soak the lentils in cold water enough to cover them + 2 inches higher i.e. plenty of water.

Coconut chutney
Pour 150ml of boiling water over the coconut and leave to soak.

Sweet potato
Put sweet potatoes on a roasting tray, salt and pepper them, add cumin and fennel seeds and olive oil. ‘Moosh’ them around with your hands, making sure the oil/seeds/s & p are coated evenly over the little beauties. Roast in the oven for 20-25 mins, until golden brown (caramelised).

In a large saucepan (casserole pot i use a le creuset) or a deep frying pan if le creuset is busy, sizzle red onion, garlic, ginger, chilli in a little oil on a low heat for about 10 mins, until soft and sweet.

Grind the cumin and coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar (i’m not fussy about this i.e. it’s a speedy process), then add to the pan with the other spices and cook for a couple of mins to toast and release the oils. Drain the water off the lentils and add them, along with the coconut milk and stock to the pan and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down and bubble away for 25-30 minutes.

Coconut Chutney
While that is cooking make chutney. Drain the coconut and put it into the bowl. Fry the mustard seeds and curry leaves in a little oil until they begin the crackle, then pour the mixture over the coconut. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the ginger and chilli and give it a good mix.

To finish your dhal, take it off the heat, then stir in the spinach and allow it to wild a little, stirring in half the chopped coriander and the lemon juice too. Pile into bowls and top with the crispy sweet potatoes, spoonfuls of the coconut chutney and the remaining coriander. I serve this with any rice i have, even jasmine (although this is possibly like blasphemy) basmati would be better, and brown basmati better still. You could nip down to the Indian takeaway and order a couple of cheeky garlic naans, or (dairy free) wholemeal roti, to make it super dooper delicimo.

That is all.

Dahl is a weekly requested hit in our kitchen.

I personally love that this meal is…

* cheap
* fun and quick to make (especially sans coconut + kumara)
* warming in winter
* soupy, so, yummy and comfy on a sore throat
* with beautiful earthy colours
* layered with flavour thanks to the hand ground spices
* 100% plant based which is better for our Earth/environment/water ways

Based on a recipe by Anna Jones (with suggestions by Emily with wild & grace).

Photo credit: Andra Ion from Unsplash.


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