I’ve been making variations on this recipe forever. Sometimes I change it up with other spices or different types of lentils/pulses, but the core remains as one of my weeknight dinner go-to’s. I love how it checks off all of those crucial boxes: easy, quick, economical, comforting and so, so good for you. I think there’s just the right amount of things to keep it interesting too. The little cubes of sweet potatoes still have a bit of bite. The leeks are sweet and bring that fragrant hit of coconut oil. It’s a vibrant and easy thing to keep us in the light this time of year.
Of course dal is a staple meal in India, where it originates from. Dal simply refers to dried legumes, and also a thick purée made with those legumes. I recommend reading The How and Why of Dal from The New York Times to learn a bit more about this perfectly simple, naturally vegan comfort food.
I have a hunch that a lot of us are thinking about changes and things we want to take on, either over the holiday break or into the new year. I know there will be some major ones in my house. I’m not really a juice fast kinda gal anymore, but my partner and I have both acknowledged that we need to focus-up some of our habits in terms of health and wellbeing. Cue the easy but wholesome recipes! Make this sweet potato dal next time you’re in the mood for just that ;)
Ginger Sweet Potato Dal with Coconut Leeks
Sweet Potato Dal
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
- pinch of chili flakes
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and small diced
- 1 two-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 one-inch piece fresh turmeric (or substitute 1 tsp dried turmeric powder)
- 3½ cups water, plus extra if necessary
- sea salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
- 1 medium leek, white and light green part julienned
- squeeze of lime juice
- pinch of salt
- cooked warm rice
- chopped parsley, cilantro or mint (or a combination)
- black sesame seeds, for garnish (incredibly optional)
- Every recipe I’ve read for dal tells you to add the salt at a different time (to avoid toughness or the lentils breaking down too soon etc). I add a solid pinch at the beginning when I pour the water and then adjust it at the end to my liking.
- Place a large pot over medium heat. Heat up the coconut oil in the pot and add the ground coriander, mustard seeds and chili flakes. Stir about until the mustard seeds start to pop just a little bit.
- Add the lentils, diced sweet potato, ginger, turmeric, and a pinch of salt. Stir the whole mixture to combine/coat in oil. Add the filtered water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the mixture is creamy and soupy, stirring occasionally. The sweet potato pieces should still be intact with a tiny bit of bite. The lentils will be broken down, filling out the mixture, about 25 minutes or so. Add more water if you need to. Keep it warm while you sauté the leeks.
- Heat the coconut oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the leeks to the pan and sauté until leeks are soft and very fragrant. Season with salt. Add a squeeze of lime if you like. Remove from the heat.
- To serve: divide the hot dal over 4 portions of rice. Top the dal with sautéed leeks and a few dribbles of the coconut oil left in the pan. Garnish each serving with the chopped herbs and black sesame seeds.