Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry
You know what I absolutely love about Ayurveda? It’s that this knowledge has been distilled over centuries! It’s not a trend (although it seems to finally be catching on), it’s not a temporary solution, nor is it something to be taken lightly. Ayurveda is a lifestyle choice. You cannot just drink a cup of turmeric milk, then eat cheese and potato chips all day and say you follow Ayurveda. There are so many principles which are vital to the framework of Ayurveda, that to break them would simply make it not Ayurveda!
Here are some Ayurvedic principles that I have come to value over the years:
Eat only when you’re hungry.
Snacking has become the baseline of culture, in the East and West. We are often guided by our senses and not by the call of hunger. And if you’re like me, snacking has probably made it really difficult to decipher the true call of hunger. So skip the snack and wait for your body to ask for food. And then feed it with nourishing foods.
Eat warm, cooked foods.
Yes, I know you love your smoothie and your raw juice/salad. But raw foods are much, much harder to digest than cooked foods. Raw foods put undue pressure on our digestive systems, and a large part of that raw meal goes undigested. In ayurveda, they say that undigested foods transform into toxins, which only continue to weigh down our physical, mental, and emotional systems.
Skip that glass of ice cold water!
Cold water, juices, and drinks in general slow down our digestion. If you think of your digestive system as a cooking fire, you want to support that fire with warm liquids and not put it out with cold liquids.
Add spices to your food.
Spices are the agents of digestibility. Adding a few spices while cooking, increases your body’s ability to break down food materials, by kindling the aforementioned digestive fire. So sprinkle some cumin, turmeric, black pepper, and thyme on your next vegetable stir-fry!
And now that you’ve got a few principles to work with, here’s a recipe you can add to your cooking repertoire. This Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry will satisfy your sweet, salty, and sour sides. It’s packs in a touch of heat, and has a healthy addition of lentils.
Go on now… you can thank me later!
Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry
3-4 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion (chopped)
½ inch ginger (grated)
2 cloves garlic ( grated/optional)
2 medium organic sweet potatoes (washed well, cubed with skin on)
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp coriander powder
1 pinch hing (asafoetida)
4 tsp jaggery
1 tsp tamarind paste
½ cup red lentils or split moong lentils (washed)
Salt to taste
For the TARKA (seasoning):
2 tbsp ghee (or sunflower oil)
1 tsp channa dal (bengal gram)
½ tsp cumin seeds
4-5 curry leaves
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp urad dal
½ tsp sesame seeds
1 dried red chilli
Place the washed lentils in a pot, with about 2-3 cups of water, boil until the lentils are fully cooked and a little mushy. If the water runs out before the lentils are cooked just add more water.
In another large saucepan, heat the sunflower oil. When the oil is hot add the onions with about 1 tsp salt and sauté until translucent. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté until the onions are starting to brown.
Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, and hing powders and stir. Add the sweet potatoes and mix well with all the spices. Add a cup of water and cook the sweet potatoes until soft.
Add the cooked lentils with any of the remaining cooking water to the sweet potatoes. If the gravy is too thick, you can add a little more water to the desired consistency.
Add the tamarind paste and jaggery and incorporate well, until all the jaggery melts into the curry.
For the tarka, take a medium frying pan and heat the ghee. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves first. When the mustard seeds start to sizzle, add the dried red chilli, cumin seeds, urad dal, channa dal, and sesame seeds. When the seeds start to brown slightly, turn off the heat and add the whole mix (including the ghee) to the cooked sweet potatoes. (Be careful when doing this because the hot ghee/oil will splatter)
Mix well and cook for 5 more minutes. Check the salt and add more if needed. The finished curry should be slightly sweet, slightly spicy and a bit tangy.
Devour with white basmati rice and a dollop of ghee! Enjoy!
Sweet potato is heavy and sweet, jaggery is sweet, tamarind is slightly sour - all which are ideal for pacifying Vata doṣa.
The heat from dried red chillies makes this curry a good option for Kapha doṣa, in small amounts.
You could use less tamarind and even skip the dry red chilli for Pitta doṣa.