Sometimes I feel like cooking and I know what I want to make, but I can’t be bothered going to the supermarket. This results in the compromise of cooking, but with the ingredients already in the house rather than the ones I want. Not so long ago this resulted in sweet potato and three-lentil dahl.
I wanted to make the pumpkin and eggplant curry from my Harvest Vegetarian cookbook, but I had neither eggplant nor pumpkin. I did however have sweet potato and a few normal potatoes. Additionally, there were three types of pulses that looked like lentils in the house – red lentils; ‘ toor dahl (split) plain’ (whatever that may be); and split mung beans.
I started by peeling, dicing and roasting three sweet potatoes (probably about 1kg) with garlic and olive oil.
While the sweet potato was roasting I minced the garlic (4 cloves) and ginger (one knob) and finely chopped the lemongrass (one stem).
Next, in a stockpot (you can use a fry pan but this will create more dishes!) I dry fried the cumin seeds (i.e. without oil), garam masala and ground coriander in a fry pan until the cumin seeds sizzled. Then I added the ginger, garlic, lemongrass and chilli flakes and fried until the mixture became thick.
I added 2 litres of water, all the lentils, 1 tablespoon of tamarind, the zest of one lemon and a couple of stock cubes. I brought this to the boil and simmered for 20 minutes. Between the three varieties of dried lentils there was probably about 700g.
Once the sweet potato was soft I added that too.
I added more water, set the stovetop to low and let the dahl simmer hoping it would all be cooked when I returned.
Unfortunately I forgot about my cooking and by the time I remembered there was a not so lovely layer of burnt dahl firmly attached to the bottom of my stockpot. Damn, again! And, to make matters worse the toor dahl still wasn’t cooked.
I transferred the non-burnt dahl to a different stockpot, covered with a lid and simmered for a further 20 minutes. I removed the lid and left the dahl out overnight to cool and finish cooking. Thankfully the next morning it was all cooked.
I put it into many, many containers ready to freeze and take to work for lunches.
Next time: If I cook with toor dahl again I will either pre-soak or use the pressure cooker.
Ingredients: sweet potato, potato, lentils or pulses, ginger, garlic, chilli flakes, lemongrass, lemon zest, tamarind, veggie stock and olive oil
Equipment: chopping board, knife, oven tray, oven, stockpot (or two if you burn your dahl!)
- Peel, dice and roast the sweet potato with olive oil and garlic.
- Dry fry cumin seeds, garam masala and ground coriander in a stockpot until the cumin sizzles.
- Add minced garlic and ginger, finely chopped lemongrass and chilli flakes, fry until the mixture becomes thick.
- Add 2 litres of water, the lentils or pulses, potatoes, tamarind, lemon zest and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes
- Once the sweet potato is soft add it to the stockpot. Continue cooking the dahl until all the lentils and cooked and it is the thickness you desire.
Tip: when using lentils/pulses you are unfamiliar with Google them to find out how long they take the cook!