Sweet Potato and Vaal Dal Curry

Val Daal Curry

I am dropping out of oblivion for a quick moment to share an easy and delicious weeknight recipe: Sweet Potato and Vaal Dal Curry.

Vaal is a beloved legume on India’s west coast. A small bean that’s more round than oval, it has a hard beige coat that is pretty much inedible, unlike the coats of most common beans and legumes. But inside this tough coat sits a soft, creamy core.  Peeled val cooks up quickly and easily into a pleasant, buttery, very slightly bitter flavor that’s absolutely addictive.

Vaal is easily found at Indian stores here in the United States and you can usually buy the whole vaal, skin and all, or just the “dal”: the split legume with the outer coat removed. I like keeping both on hand. The whole vaal, when you have the time to sprout it and then peel the coat off (yes, you have to do it one bean at a time), is gorgeous in dishes like Nupur’s Dalimbay Bhaat, a recipe I make over and over again. The dal is a harried cook’s best friend because it cooks up in a jiffy– quicker than most lentils, in fact. I use it to make weeknight recipes like this one I have for you today.

I thought it would be a good idea to combine sweet potatoes and vaal because of the complementary flavors: sweet and bitter. To the dal I also added some fiery, grated ginger and a few splashes of lemon juice. All those flavors worked together really well.

Gotta run now, but here’s the recipe. Enjoy, all!

Val Daal Curry
5.0 from 1 reviews
Sweet Potato and Vaal Dal Curry
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Indian
  • 1 cup vaal dal
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into a ¼-inch dice
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 1-inch knob of ginger, grated
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 heaping tbsp sambar powder (use garam masala if you have that instead, for a slightly different but still yummy variation)
  • 1 tsp canola or any vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  1. Cook the vaal dal in a pressure cooker or on the stovetop in a saucepan. To cook in a saucepan, cover the dal with 1 inch of water, bring to a boil, turn the heat to a simmer, slap on a lid, and cook about 20-30 minutes until the dal is very tender. Add more water if the dal starts to get too dry.
  2. Heat the oil in another saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and when they sputter, add the curry leaves and onions.
  3. Saute until the onions are transparent, about five minutes, then add the ginger and garlic.
  4. Stir fry for half a minute or until the garlic becomes lightly blond. Add the sweet potatoes and the sambar powder and stir well to coat the sweet potato with the spices. Cook, stirring, another five minutes or until the sweet potatoes start to soften.
  5. Add the cooked vaal dal and mix well. Bring the curry to a boil, lower the heat, put on a lid, and let the dal simmer away another 10 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are completely tender. Add water if the dal gets too dry. Vaal dal will turn really soft and break up when it's well-cooked, which is great because that's what gives this curry its really creamy consistency without any cream.
  6. Add salt to taste and mix in the coriander. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice.
  7. Serve hot with some rice or rotis.
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    that is one gorgeous daal. i have never heard of vaal or maybe mom used a differeent name.

    Thank you for the fundraiser mention Vaishali! The auction is now live on facebook as well. Here’s the fb album where people can bid. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.344672135593785.78895.143274179066916&type=1

    They surely need all the help with the current crazy dog killing in AP because of the rabies scare. They are vaccinating dogs day and night so people stop the random torture and slaughter.

    • says

      Richa, It really is horrible. There is already so much ignorance about stray dogs in India and when something like the Andhra rabies scare happens people feel justified in abusing them further. It made me really mad to see pictures of dogs in newspapers reporting the rabies stories– they were depicted as though they are monsters, jaws bared and snarling. The Indian government has never made a real effort to spay and neuter dogs and vaccinate them and now they’ve progressed straightaway to killing them. It’s a shameful moment for Andhra and for the country. I hope they come to their senses and remember Gandhi’s words: The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals.

    • says

      Its just heartbreaking.. pictures from some or the other state every few weeks. kerala kashmir.. now AP. i hope sense prevails soon.

  2. Lana says

    I read about the killing of the dogs. It is very humane that they are vaccinating the dogs, however, additionally, the dogs should be spayed and or neutered. Unfortunately, India is overrun with dogs and cats and pigs, and something permanent (spaying/neutering) needs to be put in place and implemented.

    I do not like the idea of killing the animals. It makes me very sad.

  3. Jenny says

    I just made this — thanks for the tip about vaal dal! I’m glad to have tried it, and glad to have more of it in my cupboard now! It was nice and creamy just as you say. One question: the onion gets stir-fried after the mustard seeds, before the garlic/ginger, right? I didn’t see it in the recipe, but I figured that must be where it goes in. Thanks for a delicious meal!

  4. says

    I couldn’t find vaal dal so I used butter beans (baby lima beans) and some split green peas instead. I thought, hey, they’re pretty creamy too. I also substituted yams for sweet potatoes.

    I write this as I shovel this curry in my mouth. This recipe is really delicious.

  5. Maud says

    Hi, I just made this and it’s delicious. But I’m wondering the same thing Jenny was about the onions. Do you think you could edit your recipe and add the info about the onions? It’s such a great recipe, well worth fixing it for posterity – I just found it via the Google, myself. Thanks!

  6. Madhu says

    Hello Vaishali,
    I made this dal yesterday and it tasted really good though I subbed the vaal dal with a mixture of masoor and toor daal. I’m really glad that I found this recipe. Is vaal dal similar to dried lima beans that you find at the indian stores or they are also called mochai in tamil?

    • says

      Hi Madhu, so glad you liked the dal. Yes, vaal dal is the same as mochai in tamil. The slight bitterness of the dal is perfect with the sweet potato– hope you’ll try it again with the mochai. :)

      • Madhu says

        I sure will as I have plenty of that at home. Glad I didnt run to the store to get Vaal as I was so tempted too :p

  7. Teri says

    Hello! I’m so glad I found your blog! I went WFPB in July 2014 (oil-free, too) so I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get to eat Indian food again. But I made this recipe and it was great! (I made it without the oil and it turned out just fine.) Thanks for the great recipe! This is such an amazing blog! I look forward to trying more of your recipes.

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