Sweet Potato and Vaal Dal 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!

Creamy Sweet Potato and Vaal Dal Curry

Ingredients:

1 cup vaal dal

2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into a 1/4-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

1/4 cup chopped coriander

Juice of 1 lemon

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.

Heat the oil in another saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and when they sputter, add  the curry leaves and onions.

Saute until the onions are transparent, about five minutes, then add the ginger and garlic.

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.

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.

Add salt to taste and mix in the coriander. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice.

Serve hot with some rice or rotis.
**

If you’d like to get a box of homebaked goodies from Holy Cow! in your mailbox, head on over to Richa’s blog to bid for it. Richa is raising funds for VSPCA, an organization that’s hard at work in India to make this world a better place for animals and other creatures. What’s really cool about this group is that it not only works on animal welfare issues, but it also provides vegan meals for the disadvantaged, including seniors and children. I can only ship within the U.S., but Richa has more goodies you can bid on if you happen to be outside the country.

Good luck!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

13 thoughts on “Sweet Potato and Vaal Dal Curry

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Nupur

    April 27, 2012 at 7:07pm

    OK I’m putting vaal dal on the grocery list right away! This dal looks just so tasty.

    And I’m bidding on your goodies too :)

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Richa

    April 27, 2012 at 7:15pm

    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.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Vaishali

      April 27, 2012 at 9:10pm

      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.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Richa

      April 28, 2012 at 2:01am

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

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Priya

    April 27, 2012 at 7:32pm

    Never tried curry with sweet potato,beautifully done..

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Lana

    April 27, 2012 at 8:54pm

    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.

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Wendy (Healthy Girl)

    April 28, 2012 at 11:59am

    This looks absolutely delicious! I’m going to have to get to my local Indian grocery soon to pick up some vaal dal, sambar powder, and curry leaves.

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Jenny

    May 1, 2012 at 12:48am

    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!

  7. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    tyler

    July 2, 2012 at 10:01pm

    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.

  8. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Maud

    March 18, 2013 at 1:49am

    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!

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