Sophie's dhal with lemon and saffron spiced rice


For the garam masala
For the sweet potatoes
For the rice
For the dhal
To serve

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

  2. For the garam masala, place all the ingredients in a pestle and mortar and grind to a powder.

  3. For the sweet potatoes, place the sweet potatoes into a large pan of water, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until slightly softened, then drain.

  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a roasting tin in the oven for 5-10 minutes, then tip in the sweet potatoes, turning to coat in the oil. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and roast for 18-20 minutes, or until golden-brown and crisp. Remove from the oven and drain on kitchen paper.

  5. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onions with 2 teaspoons of the garam masala for 5-6 minutes to soften. Add the chilli, ginger and garland fry for a further 2-3 minutes.

  6. Add the roasted sweet potatoes to the pan, turning them to coat in the spices. Keep warm.

  7. Meanwhile, for the rice, place the rice and water in a large saucepan, and add the butter, saffron, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise.

  8. Bring to a rolling boil, then turn the heat to its lowest setting and cover with a lid. Cook gently for 8-10 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the water has been absorbed, then season, to taste, with salt, and stir in the lemon zest and juice.

  9. For the dhal, place the lentils in a saucepan with 1.5 litres/2½ pints water and bring to a simmer. Add the turmeric, asafoetida and bay leaves, and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Stir in the spinach.

  10. To serve, divide the dhal into 4 serving bowls, followed by the sweet potato mixture and chopped coriander. Divide the rice into another 4 bowls and serve alongside.

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