Harrod’s + Dhal with crispy sweet potato and quick coconut chutney
I won’t bore you with how I’m not going to kick start my January with green juices or diets. Not dieting in January has thankfully become much more normal than embarking on a crazy short-lived detox. I do though think there is definite merit to setting intentions and starting the year off positively, with kindness to body and soul, and that’s what I plan to do.
This January is particularly exciting as today sees the start of a collaboration I have been working on for some months. For January and February you will be able to buy my food from my very own Anna Jones range in Harrods, where I am their chef of the season for the first couple of months of the year. I am so very proud that this is the first vegetarian range at Harrods, massive proof of how things are changing in how we eat.
This range is all about what I believe to be good about food, flavour, texture, colour and putting vegetables at the centre of each plate of food, about eating what you love, sharing in the joy and celebration of food. It’s a lineup some of my favourite recipes from both of my books and my Guardian columns, as well as a few new ones thrown in, a seeded pistachio and squash galette, mac and greens, lemony lentil and crispy kale soup, roasted coconut lime and tamarind curry with mustard seed brown rice. Sweet things include a chocolate tofu and Harrods Early Grey pot, banoffee pie made with whipped coconut cream and chewy chocolate and black bean cookies. And these are just a few.
I am so proud to see my food in the iconic Harrods food halls. If you haven’t made a trip there recently it should be on your list. The food halls are so beautiful, tiled facades and amazing picture perfect displays, and while it might not be the place for your weekly shop it’s a wonderful place to stroll around and pick up a treat or two. I know some of you may be thinking that Harrods is quite an upmarket destination for the food I make, as its not cheffy or posh, but lots of the food at Harrods is just that – good food. The food halls are great people watching too, from tourists to people on their lunch breaks. It takes all sorts.
Thanks go to the amazing chefs at Harrods who have spent days in the kitchen cooking with me (the Harrods kitchens sit under the store across a tunnel under the road, they are quite something) and have used such a light touch and so much care to make sure these are recipes we are all very proud of.
This is such an amazing way for me to kick off 2017, if you’d told the little girl and cooking geek Anna that I would one day have my recipes cooked in Harrods I would have lost it. I’m giving a nod to that little girl today. I’m not one for boasting but sometimes it’s good to give a little shout out to how far you’ve come and indeed what’s possible. A great thought to start the year on.
DHAL WITH CRISPY SWEET POTATO AND QUICK COCONUT CHUTNEY
To mark the launch I’m sharing what I think is my most popular ever recipe, my sweet potato dahl with coconut chutney its from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ so some of you may know it already. I have kept this recipe in the confines of the book until now, but as it’s of the heroes of the new range I thought it was a good time to send it out into the world once again. It is a killer dhal, and the roasted sweet potatoes and rose-coloured coconut chutney lift it to something stellar. Everyone I have given the recipe to tells me that this has become their ‘compliment’ dish – everyone loves it. And all from the humble little lentil.
For the chutney, fresh grated coconut is the best but I don’t often have time to crack coconuts for my dinner, so this version uses unsweetened desiccated coconut. If you have the time to grate a fresh coconut, the chutney will be out of this world. If you are short of time this chutney can be swapped for a good spoonful of mango chutney.
FOR THE SWEET POTATOES
2 sweet potatoes, skins on, washed and roughly chopped into 1.5cm cubes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1⁄2 teaspoon fennel seeds
FOR THE DHAL
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
200g red lentils
1 × 400ml tin of coconut milk
400ml vegetable stock
2 large handfuls of spinach
a bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped, stalks and all
juice of 1 lemon
FOR THE COCONUT CHUTNEY
50g unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
a little vegetable or coconut oil
a 20g piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 red chilli, finely chopped
Preheat your oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7. Pour 150ml of boiling water over the coconut and leave to soak. Put your sweet potatoes on a roasting tray and add a good pinch of salt and pepper, the cumin and fennel seeds and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast in the oven for 20–25 minutes, until soft and sweet in the middle and crispy brown on the outside. In a large saucepan, sizzle the garlic, ginger, chilli and red onion in a little oil for about 10 minutes, until soft and sweet. Grind the cumin and coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar, then add to the pan with the other spices and cook for a couple of minutes to toast and release the oils. Add the lentils, coconut milk and stock to the pan and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down and bubble away for 25–30 minutes.
While that is cooking make your chutney. Drain the coconut and put it into a bowl. Fry the mustard seeds and curry leaves in a little oil until they begin to 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 wilt 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 charred chapattis or roti, and if you are really hungry you can have some fluffed brown basmati rice too.
Images: first three, Matt Russell for Harrods, last Brian W Ferry from A Modern Way to Eat