Imagine us wandering through the aisles of a giant hypermarché on the outskirts of Paris, my sister and I were snapping up as many jars of poudre de Colombo we can bring back home, and dreaming up a thick and saucy lentil and sweet potato stew infused with warm aromatic spices of Colombo powder.
This was last year, and we’ve made the stew a few times in the past months; my sister thankfully found a local source for Colombo curry. It has been just as we had imagined, bowlfuls of a bright and peppy stew, thick, fragrant and rich with chunky sweet potatoes and creamy toothsome lentils – it has become a weeknight staple for us during the colder months.
Fragrant and nutty, Colombo curry is a warm vibrant spice blend with subtle heat. I love it in baked sweet potatoes, it brightens the earthy sweetness of the potatoes. In this stew, it shines and rounds out the wonderful range of flavours. Of course, as always, you don’t absolutely need to have Colombo curry to make this stew.
You can easily substitute with Jamaican curry or use your preferred curry powder. If like me, you’re a spice fiend, you could try experimenting and make your own.
Either way, you will make a great stew! This another one of my sister’s recipes. She’s made versions of this lentil and sweet potato stew for years which I keep wanting to share here on the blog. Luckily, she agreed to have me in our tiny kitchen while she cooked, I drank wine, took photos and shot a video.
For this stew, she starts with lentils, fibre-rich, versatile and easy to cook. She uses French green lentils, which cooks for about 25 minutes.
While the lentils cook, she peels the sweet potato, and chops the onion and leek. She uses scraps from the onion and leek, adds garlic, pepper and ginger, and she blends them with a splash of vinegar; this imparts an extra nuance of flavour and acts as a (vegetable) roux to help thicken the stew, making it almost creamy.
You could use this vegetable blend in place of coconut milk if a recipe calls for a few tablespoons.
On the stove, she sautés the onion and leek in olive oil, adds the blended vegetable mix and tomato puree, then the sweet potato cooks in the sauce for a few minutes, then in goes the lentils. Spice along the way, simmer, simmer, bubble, bubble – and voila, you have dinner sorted for the rest of the week!
- 2 cups dry French green lentils, rinsed (makes 4 to 5 cups cooked lentils)
- 6 – 8 cups water
- 2 – 4 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced (save scraps and ends to blend)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 large leek, trimmed and sliced (save scraps and ends to blend)
- 3 – 4 cups tomato puree (we used 24.5oz passata)
- 1/2 - 1 cup water or vegetable broth, to rinse out tomato can/jar
- 2 teaspoons curry powder (we used Colombo curry powder)
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
- 4 - 5 cups cooked lentils
For vegetable blend
- Scraps and ends from onion and leek (what is left over after dicing)
- 1 – 2 habanero or cayenne peppers or milder alternative like aji dulce, serrano or jalapeño
- Thumb-sized fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
- 2 – 3 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- Add rinsed lentils to a saucepan and add water, lentils should be completely submerged in water, with water coming up to about 2-inches over lentils
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook covered for 20 - 25 minutes until lentils start to soften (Add a little more water if needed to ensure lentils are completely submerged in water while they cook)
- Add salt, reduce heat and let lentils cook for an additional 3 minutes
- Remove from heat and set it aside (do not drain yet)
Make vegetable blend
- Toss craps from onion and leeks into a blender, and add pepper and ginger
- Add vinegar and water, blend until smooth and set aside
- In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, heat olive oil on medium-high heat
- Add onions and a sprinkle of salt, cook, stirring often for about 3 – 4 minutes until onions begin to soften
- Stir in coriander and cumin, and add leeks and the vegetable blend, stir and let it cook for 4 – 5 minutes
- Add tomato puree, water (for a thicker stew, use 1/2 cup water) and curry powder, stir and cover and let it cook for 3 - 4 minutes
- Add sweet potatoes, stir and let it cook for covered for 15 to 25 minutes, stir occasionally and lower heat if the bottom starts to stick
- Drain and add lentils, stir and simmer on low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes, keep stirring occasionally until potatoes are cooked through and stew becomes fragrant
- Taste, add salt to taste, make sure potato is cooked through and adjust seasoning if necessary
- Serve warm and enjoy!
Stew will be good for 4 - 5 days. Keep leftovers in the fridge, the stew will thicken as the lentils will continue to swell, reheat with a bit of vegetable stock or water to thin it out if desired.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 129 Total Fat: 5.8g Saturated Fat: 0.7g Cholesterol: 0mg Carbohydrates: 16.6g Fiber: 2.5g Sugar: 2.9g Protein: 3.8g