Creamy lentils perfectly spiced with just a tiny hint of chilli, chunks of soft sweet potato mixed in with lightly wilted spinach. All piled on top of fluffy white rice with a warm pitta on the side. For me, you can’t get much better than that. Especially on a cold night after a long day of work. I think that my favourite thing about this meal is definitely the simplicity of it all. It’s such an easy recipe to make, and takes hardly any time at all. There’s minimal prep and the whole thing can be done in just under an hour.
The secret to this recipe, like most, is to make sure that you have good quality base ingredients – for this dish I’d say stock and lentils are the most important. I’ve experimented with a lot of different brands and styles of veggie stock and have found that sometimes they can be really salty. So, I would say the best thing to do is go with your personal favourite but just bear the salt levels in mind when it comes to seasoning your dish.
The next big ingredient is lentils… for a successful dahl I would always go for dried lentils. I’ve found the ones from a tin are much more convenient but don’t cook very well at all. One of the best tips I can give you to make this dish a success is watch the cooking times; the lentils need to be cooked long enough for them to go soft, but not so long that they go mushy. They don’t have to be perfectly cooked as they will continue cooking while everything is simmering. And if they are overcooked it will really change the texture of the meal.
This is the same for the sweet potatoes. When par boiling them, you want to be able to easily pierce the chunks with a knife. It doesn’t really matter if they’re still a tiny bit hard because, just like the lentils, they will continue to cook once all the ingredients have been combined.
The other thing I love about this recipe, is how adaptable it is. Don’t have a sweet potato? Just swap it for a butternut squash! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to use butternut squash as a substitute and, honestly, you can’t even taste a difference. It’s the same with the spinach, if you don’t have any, you can substitute it for something similar like watercress.
Another bonus is that this recipe is oil free. I’m not a fan of using oil if it can be avoided, so I always cook my onions using water. Just a splash of water and the onions will cook exactly the same as if you used oil and the overall dish will be a lot less greasy.
In this meal, I only like a little bit of a kick. I love all the other flavours and wanted to give them a chance to shine instead of the dish just tasting of ‘spice’. I’m sure you know what I mean! That’s why I’ve only used a sprinkle of dried chilli, but feel free to adapt this recipe to suit your tastes, if you love spice add more. Cooking for kids or just hate the taste of chilli? Leave it out all together.
The other spices in the recipe help to add a whole dimension of flavour without being too overpowering and I think that’s what makes this dish really shine. It’s full of flavour even though it doesn’t have that many ingredients – each and every one of them help to make the dish absolutely delicious!
Remember, this recipe is all about timing! The dahl needs to simmer long enough for all the flavours to really come together; but not so long that it all reduces too much and you’re left with next to no sauce. I’ve found letting it simmer for around 30 minutes is ideal. While you’re waiting for the dahl to simmer, start cooking the rice. This way everything should be ready around the same time and that always makes everything so much easier!
This is my favourite and possibly most eaten meal at the moment; I love mopping it all up with a warm pitta! And, did I mention that it also freezes really well?! I normally make a big batch and freeze it in portions. It’s super handy and is perfect when I don’t really have time to make dinner or if I want a warm lunch. Just defrost thoroughly, warm up and you have delicious prepared meal. Perfect meal prep!
Delicious, creamy, perfectly spiced, amazingly simple and 100% vegan & allergy free, this meal is the perfect dish that absolutely EVERYONE can enjoy! Don’t just take my word for it, cook up a batch and see for yourself.