Soulful, Comforting Red Lentil Dal with Sweet Potatoes and a flavorful “tempering oil”. A quick 30 minute meal that is simple to make and full of fragrant Indian spices. Vegan! See notes about roasting the sweet potato vs. cooking it with the dal.
- 3 cups hot water
- 1 cup red lentils (split lentils)
- 2 tablespoons ghee, or coconut 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 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 –3 fresh chilies- serrano chili pepper, (or jalapeño) slit down the side vertically (optional)
- 1 tablespoon Garam Masala Spice
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek leaves ( optional, but tasty)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced (or one 14-ounce can diced)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 medium sweet potato or yam, diced into ¾ inch cubes, skins OK (other veggies include cauliflower, green peas, spinach, kale, carrots, etc) SEE NOTES.
- 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
- Handful fresh cilantro leaves or chopped scallions for garnish
- Toasted Flaked coconut- optional
Tempering oil – highly recommended!!!
- Rinse lentils and soak in 3 cups hot water in a bowl.
- In a large heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven, heat ghee over medium heat.
- Add whole seeds- cumin, fennel mustard seeds and saute until they begin to sizzle.
- Add onion, saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring, then add ginger and garlic, and saute until tender and golden, about 5 minutes. Add fenugreek, bay leaves, garam masala, fresh chilies, tomatoes and salt. Saute 3-4 minutes until they start breaking down. Add the sweet potatoes (***if roasting, add these at the end, see notes) lentils and hot water, along with honey.
- Give a stir, bring to boil, cover, and turn heat down, and let gently simmer, about 10-15 minutes, or until lentils are tender. After 15 minutes, uncover and check consistency, If watery, continue to simmer uncovered until it reduces and becomes thicker.
- Adjust salt, adding more to your taste, keeping in mind you want this to be slightly salty if serving over rice.
- Make the tempering oil to drizzle over top: heat oil or ghee over medium-high heat, add seeds and curry leaves and swirl or stir until you hear popping about 30- 45 seconds. Turn heat off. Spoon it over the dal, after plating it up.
- Serve with toasted naan bread, or basmati rice, garnishing with cilantro and flaked coconut.
- I really like ROASTING the sweet potato – which 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! If roasting, do this first- toss the cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast on a parchment-lined sheet pan at 400F until tender, about 20 minutes, while you cook the dal on the stovetop. Spoon it in after the dal is cooked.
- To add more richness, without adding ghee, you could also add a little coconut milk.
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