One of the first recipes we posted on this blog, soon six years ago(!), was an Indian lentil soup. Looking back on that photo and the short text that came with it, I definitely feel that we have learned a whole bit about food photography, recipe writing and blogging during these years. But one thing that stands strong from that old post is the actual recipe. We still make that lentil soup often, most regularly during the cold months (which in Scandinavia translates to 9 out of 12 months). Everyone in our family likes it and it’s a very quick and hassle-free recipe to cook when you also have to keep an eye on two kids running laps around the apartment (or one of them is running and the other one is toddling and wobbling after her).
My point is that lentil stew or dal, as it is called in India, has always been one of our favourite comfort foods and we just haven’t posted it enough here on the blog.
So when we were approached by Swedish spice company Santa Maria, asking us to create a few recipes for their new range of organic and fair-trade spices, we realised that this was the perfect opportunity to make another dal. Anyone that has cooked a dal knows that the spices play a really central role in the recipe. This is a new version of our old recipe. We added apricots for extra sweetness and decided on a new way of serving it – stuffed inside baked sweet potatoes. This is probably the most comforting dinner we have ever made, with lots of warm, sweet flavours that contrast the tangy yogurt and fresh pomegranate seeds on top. We usually make this as a weekday dinner with an extra large batch of lentils that last through the week. If you crave more greens, the sweet potato is gorgeous together with a fresh salad.
Santa Maria actually had a film crew in our house while we shot this recipe and have released a video and some additional photos along with the recipes on their site.
Stuffed Sweet Potato with Dal
This makes a quite generous serving of dal so you will probably (hopefully) end up with some leftovers. You will thank us the day after, it tastes even better then.
4 medium sized sweet potatoes
3 tbsp butter, ghee or coconut oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp organic turmeric
2 tsp organic cardamom
1/2 tsp organic chili flakes
2 carrots, sliced
1 2/3 cups / 400 ml / red lentils
4 cups / 1 liter water
1 tsp sea salt flakes
2 fresh tomatoes, cut in boats
70 g spinach or baby spinach
1/2 cup / 125 ml natural yogurt
1/2 cup / 65 g toasted pumpkin seeds or sprouted green lentils
1 pomegranate, seeds
Preheat the oven at 400°F/200°C.
Give each sweet potato a tiny slit at the top and place them on a baking pan.
Bake for about 45-60 minutes or until the skin is crisp and the flesh is soft. Prepare the dal while the potatoes are in the oven.
Place a large pot on medium heat. Add butter, onion, garlic, apricots, ginger, turmeric, cardamom and chili flakes. Saute for a few minutes, until the onion is soft and the kitchen has a lovely scent from all the spices. You can add a splash of water if they start to get burned. Add carrots and lentils and let cook for two more minutes, then add water and salt and give it a good stir. Decrease the heat when it starts to boil, put the lid on and let simmer for 15-25 minutes (depending on the lentils). Stir occasionally to make sure the lentils aren’t getting burned. Add more water if needed. Remove from the heat when the lentils almost have dissolved, add tomatoes and spinach. Taste and add more salt or spices if needed.
Place each sweet potato on a plate. Make a cut at the top and squeeze the ends together to open. Add a couple of spoonfuls lentil stew in the potato (you can carve out some flesh if you prefer more filling but we just fill it with as much as we can fit, messy is good). Top with yogurt, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds, fresh cilantro and some freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!