How to make the perfect Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry
Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves four people
There’s a general misconception out there that Indian cuisine is a difficult one to make at home, and is one best left to professionals in their restaurants and curry houses. But on a subcontinent with over a quarter of a billion households, where hundreds of millions of home meals are cooked each day in domestic kitchens, this clearly cannot be the case.
Indian food at its best is actually very simple - taking a handful of quality ingredients, a few harmonising spices and aromatics, and one pot for them all to sit in and do their magic. This dish is a classic domestic meal, a vegetarian dinner that even the most hardened carnivore would find difficult to resist!
What you'll need:
- One finely chopped red onion
- One tablespoon of sesame oil
- A thumb-sized piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- One crushed garlic clove
- One finely chopped red chilli (strength is up to you!)
- One and a half teaspoons of ground cumin
- One and a half teaspoons of ground turmeric
- Two hundred and fifty grams of red split lentils
- Two medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into even chunks
- Six hundred ml vegetable stock
- Eighty grams of fresh spinach
First of all, you’ll need a large, heavy based saucepan with a tightly fitting lid. Add your oil, and heat it up over a moderate heat. Throw in your onion, and cook for a few minutes until they’ve sweated, softened and gone translucent. Then, add your garlic, ginger and chilli, and cook for a further two minutes.
Add your ground spices to the mix, and cook for one minute while stirring well. The onion should turn a beautiful, bright yellow colour from the turmeric.
Turn the heat up a little, and add your chopped sweet potato. Give it a good mix, so everything is covered with the spice mixture and chilli. After this, add the stock into the pan, little by little, stirring all the time. Stir in the lentils, along with some seasoning, and bring the whole lot to a good boil.
Once you’ve got things bubbling, turn the temperature down again, and cover the pan. Cook like this for about twenty minutes - the lentils will have done their thing, and become plump and tender, and the potatoes should be soft yet still holding their shape.
Taste the curry - now is your chance to add any spices or seasoning, or a bit more chilli if you like it hot. Tear your spinach leaves, and chuck the whole lot into the pan. They’ll wilt quickly and add a fantastic, leafy flavour to the mix.
Serve hot, topped with some sliced spring onions or on a bed of wild rice. Delicious!
Wine pairing for Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry
Indian food can be notoriously difficult to pair with wine. There are usually a handful of dominant flavours in most curries, and the heat of the chilli will complicate things a bit further. However, this dish also has some subtleties that need to be considered when choosing a wine - the earthy taste of the lentils, the sweetness of the potatoes need to be taken into account, and not lost in the mix.
India is home to a burgeoning wine industry, and interesting pairings are being made at restaurants across the subcontinent, but it may be some time before quality Indian wines reach our local wine shops.
I’d pair this dish with a well structured, full bodied Chardonnay. The sweet potatoes will pair nicely with the exotic fruit flavours, and the acidity and depth of flavour in this wine will stand up to all those different spices.
There you have it -- an easy-to-recreate, flavor-packed recipe for sweet potato and lentil curry!
While you stuff yourself with this tasty dish, why not try our wine palate quiz that will match you with your top 3 wine types!