Cold and flu season has well and truly hit, and although I have been trying my damnedest to not catch anything this year, you can’t hide from determined viruses forever. I was struck down with a nasty cold this past week and a half, and thank goodness I had a stash of soup and some kind of tomato-y stew in the freezer, cause was I not up for cooking at all! Now that I’m starting to feel better I was looking for something easy to make, that won’t send me straight to bed before eating through exhaustion. I also wanted to make something nutritious and a little bit spicy to try and clear out the sinuses. Not to mention it uses up those lentils in the cupboard – you know those lentils that always seem to be there. Lentils are something that almost every human has in their kitchen cupboard, whether they know it or not – I remember as a child being at my Granny’s house and going through the kitchen cupboard (cause that’s how cool I was) and always wondering what the hell those little orange things were. They ALWAYS seemed to be there, never getting used up. Now that I’m a grown-up cooking person, I ALWAYS have lentils in my cupboard. In fact I often have more than one bag, in case I run out, you know? Can’t have that. I have learned how truly valuable a bag of lentils is in a pinch. So here it is, my cold-busting, budget sweet potato and spinach dahl.
Price: €0.86 per portion
Time: 10 minutes prep, 40 minutes cook time
You Will Need:
- 1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1 large sweet potato, roughly chopped
- 3 medium onions, roughly chopped
- 4 cups raw spinach, chopped
- 1 bulb of garlic, minced
- 2 bird eye chillies, deseeded and chopped
- 1 thumb of ginger, minced (or grated)
- 1tsp turmeric
- 1tsp ground cumin
- 1tsp ground coriander
- 1/4tsp cinnamon
- 1tsp fennel seeds
- 1tsp peppercorns
- 3 cardamom pods
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 500ml water
- salt and pepper to taste
- (optional) coconut milk to serve
How to make it:
Start by toasting the peppercorns and fennel seeds until fragrant. Make sure to keep moving them around the pan – please don’t put them in the toaster! You just need to warm them up in a pan until fragrant. Don’t let them burn! When they are done, tip them into a pestle and mortar and grind up.
Next you want to mix up the rest of the spice blend by adding the freshly ground spices and the pre-ground spices to the dry pan along with the cardamom pods and warm through. It’s worth mentioning here that you can spend as much or as little time on the spices as you’d like. If you’re stuck for time you can save yourself 5 minutes and just throw a few tablespoons of medium curry powder into the pan and move on to the next step. You can use all whole spices and toast then hand grind them – which would give the most flavourful result, or you could do this weird hybrid version I went with. My blend is abnormally fennel heavy because I just fancied it that way, it adds an unexpected sweetness!
Once the scent of the spices fill your kitchen, go ahead and add the onion, ginger, chillies, garlic and tomato puree to the pan an mix thoroughly over a medium-high heat.
Add 100ml of the vegetable stock into the pan and allow the ingredients to sweat down, covered, for 5 minutes.
When the onions are nice and soft, add in the sweet potato and lentils, mixing well. I recommend chopping your sweet potato into varying sizes as the smaller pieces will meld into the dish adding to the starchiness, and the larger pieces give a nice bite to the dahl. Top off with the rest of the vegetable stock, stir well and cover. Bring to the boil and then turn down to a medium heat, allowing to cook for 30 mins. Be sure to stir every 5 minutes or so as lentils are sticky little so-and-sos and will be more than happy to clump together on the bottom of the pan.
When the dahl has been cooking for 30 minutes, add in the spinach and stir through. Turn off the heat and leave to sit, covered, until you are ready to serve. Serve however you like – with naan bread – let me know if you have found any good vegan ones, I haven’t. Try it with poppadoms, rice, with a drizzle of coconut milk, on it’s own. You could also stir in some peas when it’s nearly cooked too, but I was trying not to end up with 14,000 portions like I normally do when I start adding in every vegetable I love! This has already gone into my freezer to stock it back up as dahl freezes so well. It’s great for meal-prep that way. I have another portion in the fridge for through the week and I can’t wait, cause I know it’s going to taste even better re-heated, as with all curry dishes. It’s already doing wonders for my sinuses, thank goodness. I hope you give this dish a go, I know it’s quite a simple one but it is SO GOOD. This is also another really cheap and filling dish, coming in at €0.86 per portion – and I don’t skimp on portions! So go on and start making it – you know you have the lentils!
Let me know if you try this recipe by commenting down below and tagging me on Instagram! If you have any suggestions on ways you improved this recipe or your own little additions, please share! Also feel free to share/pin this recipe on Pinterest!