For my second submission to the Suma Bloggers Network, I thought I’d share our Sweet Potato, Red Lentil and Coconut Curry. I’ve been making this dish since Lil’ L was a toddler and, to this day, it remains one of his favourite dinners. Every time I make it, his chatter stops and all you hear is ‘mm… mm’ as he woofs it down.
Lil’ L has never really liked white potato (he finds it bland), but he loves sweet potato. With its sweet taste and beautiful orange colour, I bet it’s a hit with most kids.
And another great thing about sweet potato is its nutritional profile. It’s literally packed with antioxidants. Just one medium potato contains 438% of the vitamin A RDA and 37% of the vitamin C RDA. It’s also rich in vitamin B6, manganese, potassium, and a good source of dietary fibre. [Source]
For a protein and iron boost, I add red lentils to this curry which all but disappear into the sauce (perfect for picky kids). I also throw in a couple of handfuls of spinach. With its soft texture and neutral flavour, this has to be one of the most kid-friendly greens.
To keep this curry quick and simple to prepare, I use a ready-made curry paste. Pataks Korma Paste is my favourite as it’s mild enough for kids, and the spice blend is a perfect compliment to the sweet potato and coconut. Should you wish though, you could always substitute the paste with a mild curry powder (which is what I use when we’re in France).
For creaminess and a beautiful hint of coconut flavour, I use creamed coconut. I really like this ingredient as it’s 100% coconut, cheap to buy and lasts ages.
Creamed coconut is widely available in the UK and Asia, but I’m not so sure about other parts of the world. If you have trouble finding it, you could easily substitute with coconut butter or a swirl of coconut cream.
With its sweet, mildly spiced flavour and soft, creamy texture, this curry is perfect for all the family. It’s quick and easy to prepare, so great for busy week day nights. For a full-blown Indian feast (perfect for weekends and dinner parties), serve with side dishes of rice and chappatis or naan bread, and an entrée of poppadoms, onion bhajis and fresh mango chutney.
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes Ready in: 35 minutes
1 TBSP oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 medium sweet potatoes (about 500g / 17½ oz), scrubbed and cut into bite size chunks
4 cm / 1½ inch piece of root ginger, finely grated
140g / 5 oz / ¾ cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
1-2 TBSP mild curry paste (e.g. Pataks Korma Paste)
750ml / 25 fl oz / 3 cups hot vegetable stock (e.g. Mariold Bouillon Powder)
1 organic tomato, finely chopped
50g / 2 oz / ¼ cup creamed coconut, grated (e.g. Biona Organic Creamed Coconut) (or substitute with coconut butter or a swirl of coconut cream)
2 handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped
Allow 70ml / 2½ fl oz / 1/3 cup brown basmati rice (or brown & wild rice basmati mix) per person
Handful each of flaked almonds and sesame seeds, lightly toasted
If serving with rice, prepare this first. Place the rice in a fine mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly under running water. Place the rice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, along with double the volume of water (i.e. 1/3 cup of rice and 2/3 cups of water per person). Boil rapidly, uncovered for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight fitting lid, and simmer for 20 minutes. If air pockets have appeared in the rice, it’s ready. Remove from the heat and leave to stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
Prepare the curry: Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan and cook the onion and sweet potato on a medium-low heat for about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, place the lentils in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under running water until the water runs clear. Pick over the lentils and remove any pieces of grit. Prepare the vegetable stock.
Add the ginger and curry paste to the pan. Add a touch of water, if needed, to loosen the mixture. Stir in the lentils until coated in curry paste. Add the stock and tomato. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. When the potato and lentils are tender, stir in the creamed coconut. Add the spinach and continue cooking for a couple of minutes. Add seasoning, to taste.
While the curry is simmering, prepare the garnish. Place the flaked almonds and sesame seeds in a dry frying pan (skillet) and cook on a medium heat, stirring continuously. As soon as they start to brown and become fragrant, remove from the heat.
Arrange the curry in a bowl and sprinkle the flaked almonds and sesame seeds on top. Serve with a side dish of rice.
Any leftover curry can be stored in the fridge for up to three days or for weeks in the freezer.
Leftover rice should be refrigerated within an hour of cooking. Use within 24 hours and be sure to heat thoroughly before serving.
Notes for serving to young children
For really young children, I would recommend giving their curry a quick blast with a stick (immersion) blender to make a chunky purée. For children that have an aversion to onion or spinach, whizz them in a mini food processor before adding them to the pan (the veggies, not the children!) That way, they’re so small they won’t detect them.
This curry is so easy to prepare and cheap (it costs literally a few pence per portion). It’s also far healthier and less calorific than take-outs. So, next time you’re craving a curry, head into the kitchen and make your own. In less time than it takes to get a take-out, you’ll be tucking into your own delicious curry and have saved yourself a small fortune. Now that’s my idea of the perfect fast food!