I've spent a lot of time in India and the tastes in this recipe take me back every time. Dahl is pure nourishment on a cold or warm evening, with its warming spices and hint of chilli. Making a big batch of dahl is my staple on a Monday, as it freezes well and most of the time tastes better re-heated. I've chosen cauliflower rice here as an alternative - a favourite in the rooted kitchen - and a lighter alternative to rice, which alongside lentils can be quite heavy. The trio of tastes and textures here serves for a dish you'll come back to time and time again


2 sweet potatoes, skins on, washed and roughly chopped into 2cm cubes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1⁄2 teaspoon fennel seeds
olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon                                                        
200g red lentils
1 × 400ml tin of coconut milk
400ml vegetable stock
2 large handfuls of spinach
a bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped, stalks and all
juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon honey

COCONUT RICE                                                                                                                                  
2 garlic cloves

Head of 1 cauliflower

50g unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
a little vegetable or coconut oil
a 20g piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 red chilli, finely chopped

  1. Preheat your oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7. Pour 150ml of boiling water over the coconut and leave to soak. 

  2. Put your sweet potatoes on a roasting tray and add a good pinch of salt and pepper, the cumin and fennel seeds and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast in the oven for 20–25 minutes, until soft in the middle and crispy brown on the outside. 

  3. In a large pan, add the garlic, ginger, chilli and red onion in coconut oil for until soft and sweet. Add all the spices to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes to toast and release the oils. Add the lentils, coconut milk and stock to the pan and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down and simmer for around 25–30 minutes.

  4. Grate the cauliflower and chop the garlic. Add to a frying pan with a good dollop of coconut oil. Add two tablespoons warm water and add a lid. Reduce the heat and then cook for 10 minutes until it’s steamed through. Add seasoning.

  5. Drain the coconut and add to a bowl. Fry the mustard seeds and curry leaves in a tablespoon coconut oil until they begin to crackle, then pour the mixture over the coconut. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the ginger and chilli and give it a good mix. 

  6. Take the dahl off the heat and then stir in the spinach and allow it to wilt a little, stirring in half the chopped coriander and the lime juice too. 

  7. Add to bowls and top with the crispy sweet potatoes, spoonfuls of the coconut chutney and the remaining coriander.