These are not your average lentils, folks.
I know I talk about almost crying over food all the time. But in this case, I came dangerously close.
I love anything lentils, and sweet potatoes are also one of my favorite things. Even though I usually ignore leeks at the grocery store, I like those a lot, too. They’re so subtle, and add a less overwhelming flavor to a dish than a whole onion or shallot.
This recipe calls for a little juggling: Depending on when you start everything, you could be cooking and simmering dal, steaming rice and sautéing leeks at the same time. But trust me when I say, the effort is well worth it.
Wait to take the dal off the heat until the sweet potatoes are tender, but not too soft. If you want to buy yourself some time while the leeks cook, you can add more water to the pot.
The smell when you cook the leeks in salt and lime…I’m getting emotional just thinking about it.
I would strongly urge–no, implore–you to try this recipe as soon as possible. I know not everyone is as big of a fan as lentils, sweet potato and leeks as I am. But I can’t imagine this dish not being universally loved.
Ginger Sweet Potato Dal with Leeks (slightly adapted from The First Mess)
For the dal:
2-3 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of chili flakes
1 cup red lentils
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced small
1 two inch piece of ginger, peeled + minced
1 one inch piece of fresh turmeric, peeled + minced (or substitute 1 tsp dried turmeric powder)
3 1/2 cups filtered water + extra if necessary
salt to taste
For the leeks:
2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 leek, white and light green part julienned (if you don’t know how to julienne, here’s a good tutorial)
squeeze of lime juice
pinch of salt
cooked, warm rice
chopped parsley, cilantro or mint (or a combination)
black sesame seeds (very optional, yet they do add a certain je ne sais quoi)
Place a large pot over medium heat. Heat up the coconut oil in the pot and add the ground coriander, mustard seeds and chili flakes. Stir about until the mustard seeds start to pop just a little bit.
Add the lentils, diced sweet potato, ginger, turmeric, and a pinch of salt. Stir the whole mixture to combine/coat in oil. Add the filtered water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the mixture is creamy and soupy, stirring occasionally. The sweet potato pieces should still be intact with a tiny bit of bite. The lentils will be broken down, filling out the mixture. Add more water if you need to. Keep it warm while you sauté the leeks.
Heat the coconut oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the leeks to the pan and sauté until leeks are soft and very fragrant. Season with salt. Add a squeeze of lime. Remove from the heat.
To serve: Divide the hot dal over 4 portions of rice. Top the dal with sautéed leeks and a few dribbles of the coconut oil left in the pan. Garnish each serving with the chopped herbs and black sesame seeds.