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Dhal with crispy sweet potato and quick coconut chutney

Sweet potato dhal for web

There is a solidarity in doing the same things right now. For years many of us have been trying to be different - to find the thing no one else is doing , be the first one to discover something. But in these wild times days doing the same thing as others brings me great comfort. Seeing you all cook my rhubarb cookies last week made it feel like we were somehow together and lifted me up. In the past month or so, lots of households I know seem to be finding happiness in focusing on feeding themselves well and eating together. (See the #makingamealofit from my friend Laura Jackson for some table inspiration.) Saturdays in our house have become the time to spend a bit more time and effort on a meal and each weekend I've tried to make a simple but colourful feast to punctuate the week.

This week it's going to be curry night. So I thought: why don't we all cook together this Saturday night? To make a bit of an effort without having to change out of our leisurewear.

60 mins
Sweet potato dhal for web


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
  • olive oil

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 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  1. Preheat your oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

Additional information


In an airtight container for up to 3 days in fridge.
The dhal and sweet potato for up to 2 months.

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