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Small bowl of dal with spices and spoon on side.

Small Batch Sweet Potato Dal


Healthy and comforting, this sweet potato dal is a fun take on the simple Indian lentil dish I grew up eating. Make this over the weekend for an easy meal prep option to eat throughout the week. Serve with rice or naan for a delicious and filling meal!


  • 3/4 cup dry lentils (I use Toor Dal)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and grated (~ 1 packed cup grated)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or neutral oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2-inch ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri chili powder OR 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 small green chili, halved (optional)
  • 3-4 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • To serve: Basmati rice, naan, roti, etc.


  1. In a medium-sized pot, combine 3/4 cup dry lentils and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.
  2. Add 1 small grated sweet potato, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric. Simmer until lentils and potato break down and you get a stew-like consistency, about an hour. Stir occasionally to help break up lentils, mashing some up against the side of the pot as you stir. To help break them up even more, you can use a whisk to stir. Add more water as needed to keep the pot from drying up (I generally end up adding 1/2-1 cup extra water).
  3. Once lentils are done, cover and turn off heat.
  4. In a small pan, heat 2 tablespoons ghee or oil over medium heat. Add 1 small diced onion and saute for 10 minutes, until soft, translucent and just slightly browned. Add ginger and cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. If pan is dry, add a little more ghee or oil. Increase heat to medium-high and add 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds. Cook until seeds start to splutter a little. Then add 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri chili powder and, if using, 1 halved green chili and 3-4 curry leaves. Let cook for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add onion mixture to dal and stir to combine. Stir in 2 tablespoons lemon juice and chopped cilantro.
  7. Serve with rice, naan or roti.
  8. This dal will stay in the fridge for 7-10 days and freezes beautifully!


Recipe based on and inspired by Melissa Clark.


  • I use Toor dal (lentils) for this recipe, but you can use a mix of Toor and Masoor dal, or red lentils will work as well. Whatever you prefer to keep on hand. I'd stay away from french or green lentils for this one.
  • I don't find it necessary to soak my lentils, but I do like to give them a quick rinse.
  • If you find that your lentils aren't breaking down easily, you can take about a cup of the mixture and blend it to a smooth consistency. Stir that blended portion back into the pot. Alternatively, use a stick blender to blend until you get the consistency you are looking for.
  • For an even quicker dal, you can cook the lentils and sweet potato in a pressure cooker. To cook in an Instant Pot, combine lentils, sweet potato, salt, turmeric and water and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then the rest manually. Stir vigorously to help break up lentils and potato. Continue with recipe as-is.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian