No matter how successful we have been in the outer world, judged by standards external to us, if we are not living in accord with the intent of our soul, depression is likely to follow.
Indian Sweet Potato Lentil Dal is like humble comfort food for the soul. Infused with fragrant spices, it’s a very simple but deeply satisfying meal, that awakens your taste buds while nourishing your whole body down to the core. A lentil stew of sorts, it is finished with an optional, but delicious, “tempering oil,” which is basically whole spices like fennel seeds and cumin seeds briefly seared in oil (or ghee), releasing an incredible aroma into the house, before it is drizzled over the dal for an extra burst of flavor. For added texture, sprinkle with coconut flakes. Serve this with basmati rice or toasty naan bread, for a fast 30 minute, economical, soul satisfying meal. To me, this is pure comfort food.
The wonderful thing is this can be personalized to your taste. Today I added a stray sweet potato, but try adding roasted cauliflower, roasted butternut, peas, carrots, bell pepper, spinach, kale, or any other vegetable that needs to be eaten. You can also add cooked chicken if so inclined, although it is traditionally vegetarian. The ghee (clarified butter) is of course optional, but I have to say it is so yummy! It can be found at Trader Joe’s and upscale markets like Whole Foods.
Dal, if unfamiliar, is a thick, flavorful vegetarian stew commonly found all over India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It’s a main staple not only because it is comforting and hearty, it is also a very inexpensive source of protein and sustenance. What makes this special are the warming spices. Traditionally dal is served over rice, or scooped up with roti (a tortilla-like bread) or mopped up with chapati (naan bread). It’s delicious over other whole grains too – like quinoa, farro or buckwheat.
The word “dal” also refers to a dried pulse that has been “split” – most commonly you see this with lentils, peas and some beans. Here I used red lentils that have been in my pantry for….I don’t even want to tell you how long! I guess the good thing is they really don’t go bad, or so I tell myself, as I think about the 10-year-old beans and peas still sitting on the shelf.
The leftover dal makes for a nutritious and filling lunch and can be microwaved and scooped into pita or served over quinoa. I hope you like it!
Please remember to rate the recipe – this encourages others to make the recipes too!Print
Sweet Potato and Lentil Dal
Flavorful easy recipe for Sweet Potato Lentil Dal, vegan and gluten free!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 30 mins
- Yield: 2-4
- Category: Vegetarian Main
- Cuisine: Indian
- 1 cup red lentils split lentils)
- 1-2 tablespoon coconut oil, ghee, or vegetable oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon grated (or minced) fresh ginger
- 4 cloves garlic – minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (or substitute ground cumin)
- 1 Tablespoon Garam Masala Spice Blend (or substitute the following: 1 teaspoon cumin ground, 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (optional), 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1 teaspoon paprika, generous pinches of ground clove and cinnamon)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 bay leaves ( or 8 fresh curry leaves)
- 1 serrano chili pepper, (or jalapeño) slit down the side vertically (optional)
- 1 medium sweet potato or yam, diced into ¾ inch cubes, skins OK (other veggies include cauliflower, green peas, spinach, kale, carrots, etc)
- 3 cups water
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced (or one can diced)
- Handful fresh cilantro leaves or chopped scallions for garnish
- Flaked coconut- optional
- Tempering oil Optional but delicious
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon paprika or chili powder
- 2 tablespoons ghee, coconut oil or vegetable oil
- Rinse lentils and soak in a bowl of water.
- In a large heavy bottom pot or Dutch over, heat oil over medium high heat.
- Saute onion for two minutes, stirring, then add ginger. Saute two more minutes, then add garlic and turn heat to medium. Add spices, salt, sugar, bay leaves and chili. Stir for another minute letting spices toast, then add sweet potatoes.
- Strain lentils and add to the pot, along with water and tomatoes. Give a stir, bring to boil, cover, and turn heat down, and let gently simmer, about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, uncover and check consistency, If watery, continue to simmer uncovered until it reduces and becomes thicker.
- Adjust salt, adding more if necessary. You want this to be slightly salty if serving over rice.
- To make tempering oil to drizzle over top, simple heat oil or ghee over medium high heat, add all seeds and stir until you hear popping, about 45 seconds.
- Drizzle over top of the dal, and serve immediately with toasted naan bread or rice, garnishing with cilantro and flaked coconut.
- NOTES: I really like adding roasted veggies to this. Roasting the sweet potato (or cauliflower or carrots etc) gives this a better texture in my opinion. But to save time here, I added the sweet potato directly with the lentils to cook. Up to you.