Sweet Potato Dahl

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.

01-lentilsUnbeknown to me at the time toor dahl takes significantly longer than everything else to cook!

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.

02-boilIt was smelling delicious and I was eager to have a taste. The taste was good, but the texture very wrong. It was at this point I realised that the toor dahl was still not cooked. Damn!

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.

03 dahl pic pageOutcome: The dahl itself, despite the cooking difficulties, is rather tasty.

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!)


  1. Peel, dice and roast the sweet potato with olive oil and garlic.
  2. Dry fry cumin seeds, garam masala and ground coriander in a stockpot until the cumin sizzles.
  3. Add minced garlic and ginger, finely chopped lemongrass and chilli flakes, fry until the mixture becomes thick.
  4. Add 2 litres of water, the lentils or pulses, potatoes, tamarind, lemon zest and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes
  5. 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!


Like dahl, want more? Check out Pumpkin Dahl



      1. I get that feeling sometimes as well 🙂 Sweet Potato is an excellent addition to it 🙂 Talking about Sweet Potato, I am making brownies with them tomorrow 🙂 Can’t wait to bake.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s