This sweet potato red lentil dal is the perfect 30 minute meal to nourish you on these cold fall nights. Comforting and fragrant Indian red lentil soup, packed with sweet potatoes, topped with juicy pomegranate arils and fragrant cilantro.
This dal turns every day ingredients into absolute luxury. It’s a 20 minute meal that is perfect for weekend lunches when you have the time to make something hot, or perfect for weeknights, when there’s not really time to make anything.
If you need a 30 minute meal totally made from scratch with everyday ingredients then you need to make this dal and serve it with my 2 ingredient naan bread that’s ready in about 5 minutes. <- we all need meals like this!
Dal is an Indian dish that’s half way between a soup and a stew. I personally like mine on the thicker side and served over some rice. When I first started to make dal I read up about the flavour profiles and the do’s and do not’s of a traditional dal. And then I promptly threw that out the window. We’re into adventurous cooking around here.
So, a little of this a pinch of that and we’ve created a modern dal with a nod to it’s traditional roots and flavour profiles. The thing that makes a dal really special is what’s known as a tarka. It’s a very aromatic oil that’s loaded with garlic and toasted spices and drizzled over the lentils.
Some dals are a bit more spicy and some are more fragrant and aromatic. Personally, I go for fragrant.
Fragrant spices you need to make a killer Sweet Potato Red Lentil Dal
- cumin seeds
- coriander seeds
- green cardamom pods
- fenugreek seeds
- Garam Masala
- star anise
My method for making this dal may be a little unorthodox here, as well. I make my tarka before I cook my lentils, but I use the same pan. So, I toast spice in a dry pan, add the olive oil and let that all mingle together over the heat for a minute or 2. I pour that oil into a little bowl. Then I add a tablespoon more oil and I toss in my diced onions and lentils and my water or vegetable broth. That way you won’t be losing out on any residual spices and flavour and you only need to use one pan.
And that’s a winning number on any night of the week.
Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Dal
For the tarka
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek
- 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
- 2 green cardamom pods seeds only
- 1 star anise
- 1 clove garlic thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
For the Dal
- 1 sweet potato peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
- 140 g 3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1 red or white onion chopped
- 740 ml water or vegetable broth
- 3 Tbsp Pomegranate arils
- 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro coriander
- Heat a cast iron or heavy bottomed sauce pan over a medium heat and add all the spices to the pan. Let the spices toast in the pan for about 2 minutes. Add the olive oil and the thinly sliced garlic and remove from the heat. Drain the oil and spices into a small bowl and set aside.
- To make the lentils, add another Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and start to cook the onions and sweet potato over a medium heat. When the onions and the sweet potato are are starting to soften add the lentils to the pan and cover with the water or vegetable broth.
- Cook for about 15 minutes until the lentils are soft and the potatoes are cooked through.
- Serve in a bowl or over rice and top with the tarka and the pomegranates and cilantro.