When it’s a cold night or you’re in need of real comfort food, a bowl of steaming dhal never fails to warm you up. In India, dhal is not just lentils and the name encompasses all manner of pulses, dried beans and peas. The combination of lentils and sweet potatoes, make this a great sustaining dish. And, what’s more, it’s inexpensive to cook
and tastes delicious.
You Will Need
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy pan and cook the garlic, ginger and chilli over a low to medium heat for 2 minutes without colouring.
Stir in the mustard seeds and ground spices and when the mustard seeds start to pop, add the lentils, vegetable broth and coconut milk. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes until the dhal is thick and creamy in texture. If it’s still a bit liquid, cook for a little longer; if it’s too thick, add some more broth.
Make the spicy onion topping. Heat the oil in a shallow pan and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until it starts to caramelize and turn golden brown. Add the cumin seeds, chilli and curry leaves and cook for 2 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
When the dhal is nearly ready, put the sweet potato with the remaining oil and some salt and pepper in a bowl and toss gently together. Heat a griddle pan until it’s really hot and cook the sweet potato for 2–3 minutes each side until tender and slightly charred.
Stir the spinach leaves, lime juice and sweet potato into the dhal and season with salt and pepper. Spoon into 4 bowls and top each with a spoonful of the spicy onion mixture. Serve with warm naan or chapatis.