Sweet Potato Dhal w/CoconutReady to showcase recipes from the new cookbook Dinner, Changing the Game, by Melissa Clark, I’ll begin with what she calls a “dhal that’s definitely a bit decadent with a lot going on.” A thick, soupy dhal is appealing to eat and to cook. Visit Kalustyan’s and come home with a cheap bag full of yellow split peas.

Sweet Potato Dhal with Coconut
Dinner, Changing the Game
Serves 4 to 6

2 cups yellow split peas, preferably soaked for at least 1 to 4 hours and drained
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
1 tsp. ground turmeric
2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more if needed
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup sliced shallots (from 4 to 5 shallots)
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 tsp. brown or black mustard seeds
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, plus more if needed
1 5.4-oz. can unsweetened coconut cream
Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a medium pot, bring 6 cups of water to a simmer. Add the drained split peas, grated sweet potatoes, turmeric, and salt. Simmer until the peas have fallen apart and the potatoes are tender, about 1 hour, adding more water as needed to keep the mixture from drying out. By the end it should be thick and stew-like (or you can add more water to taste if you like a thinner dhal).

While the dhal is cooking, place a small, dry skillet over medium-high heat, add the coconut flakes, and toast until they are lightly colored, 2 to 5 minutes. Transfer the coconut to a bowl.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the coconut oil. Once it is hot, add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until they are tender and golden brown (reduce the heat if they begin to burn), about 10 minutes. Stir in the ginger, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and cayenne; cook for 1 minute, and remove from the heat.

Stir the shallot mixture into the dhal. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. In a small bowl, whisk the coconut cream a few times to loosen it. Spoon some coconut cream onto each serving of dhal. Garnish with the toasted coconut and fresh cilantro.

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I did soak my yellow split peas for a few hours in salted water: drain and rinse before cooking. Shred the sweet potatoes in the food processor (easy). This big pot of stew simmers in the background for an hour.

Meanwhile, pan-roast the coconut flakes in a dry frying pan. Neat. It works.

And where are you in the buzzing world of coconut oil? It’s a sweet-smelling, fatty oil that we can indulge in occasionally, especially at high temperatures. Smell it as you brown your shallot slices. The brown mustard seeds and the cumin seeds are echoed in my accompanying dish below.

I added 2 1/2 tsp. salt to my pot of dhal at the end. Coconut cream is such a fun addition: creamy and thick (it’s not coconut milk). I sat my soupy stew atop white jasmine rice. It was only slightly spicy, but hearty and rich.

Quick-Roasted BroccoliI followed Clark’s advice and also made her “Quick Roasted Broccoli” which really doesn’t require a recipe, I say.

Quick-Roasted Broccoli
Dinner, Changing the Game
Serves 4 to 6

Florets cut from 1 head (1 1/2 to 2 lbs.) broccoli, broken into bite-size pieces (about 7 cups)
3 to 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp. cumin seeds (optional)
1 tsp. black or brown mustard seeds (optional)

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Spread the florets out in a single layer on one or two rimmed baking sheets (you want to give them a little breathing room if possible, to help them brown). Drizzle the olive oil over the florets, season with fine sea salt and black pepper, and toss to coat.

Roast the florets for about 10 minutes, and then toss them well. If you are using the cumin and/or mustard seeds, add them when you are tossing. Then continue to roast the florets until they are tender and browned at the edges, another 8 to 12 minutes.

Serve hot or warm.

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The basic formula for roasting any vegetable: hot oven, oil drizzle, toss with spices. Victory.

Sweet Potatoes (2 medium) = $2.33
Shallots (1 cup) = .92¢
Coconut Cream (5.4oz. can) = $1.12
Broccoli (1 bunch) = $4.59

PREP TIMES: soak split peas for at least an hour, shred potatoes, simmer dhal for an hour; broccoli roasts for 20 minutes
TASTES: brown mustard seeds and cumin seeds flavor a thick dhal and roasted broccoli

Next time, I’ll move to the “Fish Tacos with Red Cabbage, Jalapeño, and Lime Slaw,” from the same Dinner, Changing the Game, by Melissa Clark. Here’s another case … do we really need a recipe for fish tacos? Come back to my site next week, to see what I discover.