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Sophie’s dhal with lemon and saffron spiced rice


  • For the garam masala

  • 2 sweet potatoes

  • sunflower oil

  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1tsp yellow mustard seeds

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

  • few cloves

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds

  • ½ tsp cinnamon

  • 4 cardamom

  • ½ tsp turmeric

  • For the dhal

  • 500g red lentils

  • 1 ½ litres water

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • pinch of asafoetida

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 onion peeled & sliced

  • 1 red chilli peeled & sliced

  • 5 cm fresh root ginger cut into small batons

  • 3 cloves garlic peeled & sliced

  • 2 good handfuls of spinach

  • small bunch of coriander

  • For the rice

  • 300g basmati rice

  • 450ml of boiling water

  • knob of butter

  • pinch of saffron

  • 5 cardamom pods

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 1 star anise

  • juice of half a lemon

  • zest of 1 lemon


  • 1.

    Heat the oven to 200C/180C FAN/GAS MARK 6

  • 2.

    Roughly chop the sweet potatoes, place them in a pan of water and bring to a boil – until they are slightly softened

  • 3.

    Heat a roasting tray in the oven with some sunflower oil – then toss the sweet potatoes in the hot oil, season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and place the tray back in the oven for the sweet potatoes to roast for around 20 minutes until caramelised and crispy on the outside.

  • 4.

    For the rice; rinse the rice in a sieve thoroughly. Place the rice in a saucepan with the water. Add the knob of butter, the saffron, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise

  • 5.

    Bring to a fierce boil and then turn it right down and put the lid on. Cook gently for around 10 minutes

  • 6.

    For the dhal; put the lentils in a pan with the water and bring to a gentle simmer

  • 7.

    While they are heating add the teaspoon of turmeric, the pinch of asafoetida and a couple of bay leaves to the lentils. The lentils will take about 15 minutes to cook

  • 8.

    While they are cooking – make the garam masala by placing all the spices into a pestle and mortar and grinding them into a smooth powder

  • 9.

    Heat a frying pan with a little oil or ghee and gently fry the onions. Add the red chilli, the ginger and the garlic

  • 10.

    Add a couple of teaspoons of the garam masala to the frying pan and allow to fry gently

  • 11.

    When the sweet potatoes are ready, remove them from the oven and drain them on kitchen paper

  • 12.

    Toss the sweet potatoes into the frying pan so they are coated in the spicy mix

  • 13.

    When the rice is ready season with some salt and add the lemon juice and zest

  • 14.

    Check the lentils are cooked. Put two handfuls of spinach into the lentils and stir around

  • 15.

    Serve some of the lentils into a bowl. Spoon on the sweet potato, spice and onion mix on top to serve with the roughly chopped coriander sprinkled on top. Serve with a bowlful of rice

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