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
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.