Baked dhal with tamarind-glazed sweet potato

In every book I write there is a recipe that I love a little more than the rest. I don’t feel good about it. Kind of like having a favourite child, no one wants to admit it. And this is it. Turmeric, cardamom and ginger- heavy dhal, topped with tamarind-glazed sweet potato, the stuff of my dreams. Luckily, I only have one actual child.

250g split red lentils
2 tablespoons coconut or groundnut oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
a large thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and
finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
10 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
a pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
750ml hot vegetable stock
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
750g sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons tamarind paste
2 unwaxed limes, halved

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Wash the lentils in cold water, until the water is no longer milky, then leave to drain.

Warm the oil in a wide, shallow ovenproof pan over a medium heat, add the chopped onion and cook until it is soft and pale gold, so about 10 minutes. Stir the ginger and garlic into the onion and add the cumin seeds. Continue cooking for 2–3 minutes.

Meanwhile, crack open the cardamom pods, take out the seeds, grind to a coarse powder, then stir into the onion together with the turmeric and chilli flakes. Add a good grind of black pepper and half a teaspoon of flaky sea salt, stirring for a minute or two.

Add the tomatoes, lentils, stock and coconut milk then bring to a simmer for a few minutes until everything has come together. You don’t need to cook the lentils here, as they will cook under the sweet potato in the oven.

While the lentils simmer, cut the sweet potatoes into long slices about 5mm in thickness. Season them with salt and pepper, then place on top of the lentils to form a lid (don’t worry if the first few sink), brush the top with the tamarind paste and put into the oven to bake for 30–40 minutes until the lentils are tender and have thickened and the sweet potatoes are crispy. Finish with a squeeze of lime over the top.


Posted: 10.03.21 13 Comments


Posted by Joanne Clouston at 12:39 on the 13.03.21

Its absolutely delicious, so tasty and hearty and the lime just perfectly finishes it off … thank you so much!

Posted by Simi S at 10:22 on the 18.03.21

Absolutely delicious. Fabulous recipe. Just the right balance of flavours and it’s very nourishing. Just ordered a signed copy of One for a gift.

Posted by Laura Frost at 8:36 on the 20.03.21

Thank you Anna, what a wonderful dish. I’ve just made it for the first time and it’s a winner. The sweet potato with tamarind is so very good.

Posted by Elaine at 6:01 on the 25.03.21

Based on this recipe which I made a few nights ago and the book arriving in my library, today (i live in NZ) I’m buying this book! I’m not a good cook and I’ve bought so many cook books that say ‘simple’ but are so not for my low-level skills! This looks amazing. This one will do me for life! So many amazing recipes so simple to do! Thank you.

Posted by Aleks at 11:31 on the 25.03.21

Hello, I have a question. I have always been told not to add salt to lentils until they have been cooked as they will get tough. Here they are seasoned during the cooking process – is this correct?
Many thanks in advance.

Posted by Puja at 4:46 on the 02.04.21

Quick question, Anna: do you bake this dish covered or uncovered? I’m guessing the latter in order to get the glaze but I’m not sure. Thanks! Look forward to your new book and being able to buy it in the US.

Posted by Alice at 7:14 on the 10.04.21

Hello! I tried this recipe tonight and it took much longer than indicated, all the sweet potatoes sank so the glaze didn’t work and there was too much liquid. What did I do wrong?!

Posted by Nikki at 4:36 on the 04.09.21

Absolutely adored the dahl, but the sweet potato topping didn’t work for me, they sank into the dahl and were barely cooked. I’m going to make the dish again but perhaps roast the sweet potatoes separately

Posted by Lauren at 4:02 on the 18.01.22

My first attempt was a bit of a soggy mess but in the second I swapped the stock for about 200mls of water rinsing out tomato tin and it was absolute perfection. Maybe this is to do with the size and depth of the pan used?

Posted by Sarah at 8:24 on the 01.08.22

I double up on coconut milk and skip the tomatoes and included some kale in the bake, and it was gorgeous. Thanks so much for the recipe, love it.

Posted by Paul at 7:34 on the 12.12.22

Is there a typo in the amount of stock to use? 750ml seems an awful lot, I had to reduce the dhal sauce on the hob afterwards and roast the sweet potatoes separately as the submerged ones hadn’t cooked for long enough.

It was good after that though, but I would agree from another comment to maybe use 200ml of stock instead.

Posted by Sue at 9:43 on the 20.01.23

Tasted great but didn’t use the 750mls of stock as I had read other peoples comments. I used about 400ml and the recipe worked well.

Posted by Rebecca Perrett at 11:52 on the 22.10.23

This is a bit similar to the wonderful sag aloo shepherd’s pie so I’m going to love it.
I’ll take the tips from others and cook in slow cooker then finish in the oven while the sweet potatoes roast. Any substitute for tamarind would be appreciated though!

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