It’s been a bit over a year now since we started on our family gluten free, vegaquarian, 5:2 fasting diet food odyssey. I first wrote about it here if you’d like to find out the whys and wherefores.
So far so good. Actually, really good. Miss E’s gluten free diet is continuing to keep her coeliac disease at bay; Miss S is robustly healthy despite being a teenager who doesn’t eat meat; Mr.B lost a load of weight during the year, put on some back on over Christmas, and is now firmly on the road back to a healthier weight without drama. Me? I haven’t gone mad with it all, and my health is fine. In fact, I’ve really enjoyed exploring different ways of cooking and eating, and been totally inspired by new recipes and cuisines.
I can honestly say, with my hand on my heart, that we don’t really miss meat these days. With the exception of Miss S, we might indulge when we eat out, but I don’t cook meat at home anymore. There are far too many tasty, meat free things to eat, and I think the secret to our success has been pulses.
The humble legume has opened up a new world of deliciousness to us. Lentils, chickpeas, beans and peas are a staple of Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine, and a staple at our house too. A healthy source of protein, low GI, budget conscious and versatile – I’d say we’re onto a winner.
Here’s a brilliantly easy and tasty recipe using red lentils from Anna Jones’ A Modern Way to Eat. We love this dish, and it’s making my mouth water just thinking about it!
- 2 sweet potatoes, skins on, washed and chopped into 1.5cm cubes
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- Thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 green chilli, finely chopped (I usually leave this out)
- 1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 300g red lentils (original recipe is 200g - we are a hungry family)
- 1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
- 450ml vegetable stock
- 2 large handfuls baby spinach, washed
- A bunch fresh coriander, washed and chopped incl stalks (I leave this out as my family aren't fans)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 50g unsweetened desiccated coconut
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 10 curry leaves
- A little vegetable or coconut oil
- 20g piece fresh ginger, grated
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 220C fan forced.
- Pour 150ml boiling water over the desiccated coconut an leave to soak.
- Put the sweet potatoes in a roasting pan with cumin and fennel seeds and a glug of olive oil. Season well with sea salt and pepper and roll around until everything is coated.
- Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the skin is roasty and brown, and the insides are soft and sweet.
- Add a little oil to a large pan and sizzle the garlic, ginger, chilli (if using) and red onion until soft and sweet - about 10 minutes.
- Grind the cumin and coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle, then add to the pan with the turmeric and cinnamon and cook for a few minutes to toast and release the oils.
- Rinse and check lentils for foreign objects, drain well and add to the pan.
- Add coconut milk and stock to the pan, stir and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down and allow to bubble away for 25-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the coconut chutney.
- Drain the coconut and place in a bowl.
- Fry mustard seeds and curry leaves in a little vegetable oil until they begin to crackle.
- Immediately pour over the coconut, season with salt and pepper and stir in the ginger and chilli.
- Once the dhal is cooked take it off the heat and stir through the spinach, allowing it to wilt a little.
- Stir in half the chopped coriander and lemon juice.
- Pile into bowls and top with the crispy sweet potato, coconut chutney and remaining coriander.
- I like to serve this over steamed brown rice and offer warmed roti.
Gluten free, Vegetarian, Vegan
This dhal freezes well, so you could make a double quantity and save half for an emergency meal. To make things quick and easy I often use microwave sachets of brown rice, and I always use store bought roti.
Thanks to Safari Living for the loan of the serving bowls.