Red Lentil Dahl with Coconut Milk, Spinach and Sweet Potatoes, a delicious vegetarian and vegan-friendly curry that is healthy and nutritious. Quick and easy to make, this dish is mildly spiced, which means the whole family can enjoy it.
What is dahl
Dahl or dal refers to the dried split pulses that do not require pre-soaking. They cook a lot faster than the regular whole pulses, making them ideal for a quick midweek meal. Whether you use Indian spices or not, this dish is packed with all the goodness you need for a healthy balanced meal.
As much as I love lentils, I hardly ever remember to pre soak them, which means they take quite a long time to cook. You know me already, I love quick dishes that can be made in half an hour or less. And since January is supposed to be all about healthy (vegan) dishes, this one is just perfect.
The spinach and sweet potatoes add colour and more deliciousness, and the coconut milk gives a subtle sweet touch that balances well the earth spices. You can go for some a more spicy kick by adding red or green chillies or ground chilli pepper, but I quite like the mild version. Let's see how to make it!
Step-by-step photos and instructions
Since the lentils don't require pre-soaking, they can go straight into the pan, so no much prepping is needed. All we need for this recipe: onion, garlic, split red lentils, sweet potatoes, spinach, coconut cream, water or stock, and spices. Quick, cheap, and definitely budget friendly.
- peel and chop the onion, garlic and sweet potatoes
- heat up the oil in a pan, add the chopped onion with salt and fry over a medium heat until translucent
- add the chopped garlic and spices, and stir to release the fragrance
- in go the red lentils and sweet potatoes, followed by the water/stock
- place a lid on the pan and cook for 10 minutes or until the sweet potatoes begin to soften
- add the bay leaves and coconut cream/milk, and cook for a further 5 minutes until the veggies are tender
- add the frozen/fresh spinach, and check for seasoning - add more salt/pepper/spices if necessary
- throw in some fresh parsley or coriander, then remove from the heat
And that's it! Nothing more, nothing less. This dal is ready in well under 30 minutes, which means we can have hot food on the table even on the busiest days of the week.
If you ask me, this red lentil dahl is delicious even without the addition of sweet potatoes and spinach. Just lentils, and nothing else, and you still have a fantastic recipe. But, of course, the more veggies, the better.
I always have frozen spinach around, and I love to throw some in pretty much any dish I make, plus it's a great way to avoid waste - fresh spinach might not be used before it becomes sad, and I really don't like throwing away good food. Kale could be a good substitution here, or just omit it if you don't have any.
Sweet potatoes are deliciously sweet, and perfect in any kind of curry, good substitutions could be butternut squash or any other squash (pumpkin would be amazing if in season). Carrots would work well to. Or even regular potatoes, why not?!
If you don't happen to have coconut cream, coconut milk works just fine (do use the canned one, rather than the thin, watery cartoon one). It can also be omitted, just add more stock if the dish is too thick.
Any other veggie can be thrown in, as long as it cook in pretty much the same time, everything goes. Do give it a go, you will love it!
Other lentil recipes
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Red Lentil Dahl with Coconut Milk
- 1 cup split red lentils
- 3 cups vegetable stock (water)
- 1 red onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 1 cube frozen spinach ( or a handful of fresh spinach)
- ½ cup coconut cream
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley/coriander
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Peel and chop the onion, garlic and sweet potatoes.
- Heat up the oil in a pan set over a medium heat, and add the chopped onion with salt.
- Fry until translucent, then add the garlic and the ground curry powder, cumin, turmeric and coriander.
- Stir for 30 seconds so that the spices release their flavours.
- Add the lentils and sweet potatoes, stir well, the add the vegetable stock/broth or just water.
- Place a lid on the pan, and cook for 10 minutes until the sweet potatoes begin to soften.
- Add the bay leaves and the coconut cream, and cook for a further 5 minutes until everything is tender - add more stock/water if necessary.
- Add the frozen/fresh spinach and allow 2-3 minutes for it to wilt.
- Check for more seasoning - add more salt, black pepper, or some chillies if you like it spicy.
- Garnish with fresh parsley or coriander/cilantro.
- Serve with basmati rice or flat bread.