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Monday, 27 June 2016

Comfort For All Seasons

We recently changed our internet provider and I’m afraid it’s been rather out of the frying pan and into the fire, so you’ll have to excuse the strange timings of posts - I might go to a cafe and schedule a few posts for the upcoming weeks, just until the internet settles down and behaves.

The weather has been weird. A few days ago it was so muggy I thought I was in a colder version of Singapore, and today it’s been drizzling for all it’s worth. I know Glastonbury weekend means rain but this is June, not October. Make your mind up, weather! I’m struggling to know what to cook - something hearty to guard against against the chill or a light meal to keep the heat at bay? Fortunately I stumbled upon a solution by way of Anna Jones’ cookbook A Modern Way To Eat. It’s a red lentil and spinach dal, topped with roasted sweet potatoes. Thee result is filling enough for the wettest, coldest day but still light and palatable in warmer climes (perfect for the Indian weather then, really). 

If your store cupboard is anything like mine then you shouldn’t even need to brave the weather for this meal. Unless, that is, you want coriander, a banned substance at home thanks to one family member’s hatred of the herb. I like to use fresh spinach as it wilts down faster but, due to the fact it's easier to store, I can also vouch for the fact that frozen spinach works well. Served with naan for mopping up duty, the lightly spiced dish is sure to tickle your tastebuds in the best way possible. If you’re feeling ambitious then you could make naan from scratch using this recipe, otherwise order them from your local takeaway like we do, or drop some in your basket next time you’re at the supermarket.

Sweet Potato and Spinach Dal Recipe

Serves 4
Oven at 180˚ fan


3 medium sweet potatoes
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
olive oil

Diced onion
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1tsp ground turmeric 
200g red lentils
400ml coconut milk
600ml vegetable stock
3 handfuls spinach (or 3 blocks of frozen spinach)

Naan (optional)


Heat the oven to 180˚.
Dice the sweet potatoes (washed but skin on) into 2cm cubes and place on a roasting tray. Sprinkle over the fennel and cumin seeds with a glug of olive oil, season well with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast in oven for 40 minutes, turning occasionally until cooked through.
Heat more olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan (essential to stop the lentils from burning) and add the diced onion. Cook until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the spices - cinnamon, cumin, coriander, turmeric - and stir together.
Add the lentils, coconut milk and vegetable stock to the pan, stir, and bring to a simmer.
Ensure the hob is on the lowest heat (to stop lentils from burning) and leave the dal to cook for 25 minutes, stirring frequently to stop the lentils from sticking to the bottom. Add hot water if necessary.
Drop the spinach into the dal and stir to wilt.
Serve the dal with the sweet potatoes on top and naan on the side.

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I love to cook and this blog follows my successes (and a few failures) in the kitchen. If you enjoy my posts, or think there is a problem with a recipe then please let me know