Red Lentils/ Sweet Potatoes

Colorful, bright, delicious

This is another stripped-down version of several recipes from the New York Times – everybody loved it, whether with rice or with the corn pakoras. It’s very colorful and pretty on the plate, good for company. But caution: this is a lot of recipe to do all at the same time without help. Consider making some or all of it in advance.

How to make the red lentil dal:

In a medium-sized frying pan, heat some olive oil and saute chopped onion until soft. Meanwhile dice a red sweet potato and add that, cook 5 minutes until softened. Meanwhile, mince some garlic and ginger and add that. Stir. Add a cup of red lentils, and then the spices: red pepper flakes, coriander, cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper, all in generous quantities. Stir and then add a can of diced tomatoes and 3 cups of water. Cook uncovered until lentils and sweet potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about half an hour. Top with chopped cilantro and some shaved coconut (sweetened works fine).

How to make the colorful rice:

In a saucepan, heat some oil. Add chopped onion and bell pepper, and saute until softened. Add turmeric, cloves, and cinnamon, and a spoonful of mustard, and saute. Add rice and mix, then add water, and a chicken or vegetable bouillon cube. Cook on low heat until the rice is done. If you make it ahead, you can get a nice crust on the bottom while you’re letting it sit and keep warm.

How to make the corn pakoras:

If you don’t feel like rice, this is another good accompaniment for the red lentil dal. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix 1/4 cup chickpea flour, 3/4 cup regular flour, 1 cup cornmeal, 1.5 tsp salt, a teaspoon of baking powder, and a fair amount of turmeric, cumin, fennel, red pepper flakes, ginger, and mustard. Microwave a package of frozen corn until it melts. Then in a food processor, grind it to a rough mush. Add to the batter. Melt half a stick of butter in the microwave and add that. Add chopped green onions and cilantro. Add water as necessary to make a batter. Fry in small pancakes in a frying pan in batches. (Also good with lime wedges and chutney, if you don’t want it with the lentil dal.)

Nice for parties.

We ate this with Greek yogurt on top, and salad or sauteed spinach (with tarragon, pepper, lemon juice) on the side

Vegetarian or vegan

Just naturally vegan (if you leave out the yogurt and use vegetarian stock or water)! Enjoy!

Can I keep this for later?

Sure. Put the leftovers in a tupperware in the refrigerator, and the flavors will blend and it will be even better than it was at first. You can reheat it for about four or five days. You might need to add a little salt after reheating to bring out the flavors.

Or try this lentil stew with rice

Published by Karen Carr

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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