Pic of Parsnip dal and spiced butter

Parsnip dal and spiced butter

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Parsnip dal and spiced butter

Side Serves 4 1h 25 min
A deeply satisfying, easy vegetarian dinner. Serve this beautifully seasoned, creamy dish with rice, chapatti or naan bread. The leftovers (if there are any) will taste even better the next day, once the flavours had had time to come together. Make sure you stir fairly frequently during the cooking or you'll end up with burnt lentils stuck to the bottom of your saucepan.

Cook's notes

Note on spices: the turmeric, cumin and mustard seeds are essential. You can manage without the others if necessary.


  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 300g parsnips (about 3-4 small or 2 large), peeled and diced
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 250g red lentils
  • 2 slices fresh ginger
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cardamom pod, crushed
  • 1.5 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1.2 litres water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • large knob butter (about 40g) or another tbsp oil for vegans
  • 1.5 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped, to finish
  • salt and pepper


Prep time: 30 min
Cooking time: 55 min
  • Step 1

    In a large, heavy pan, gently fry half the onion, half the garlic, and all the parsnips in the 3 tablespoons of oil, until they are softened but not coloured.
  • Step 2

    Add the lentils, the ginger, cinnamon, bay leaf, cardamom seeds, turmeric, cumin, cayenne and the water. Bring to the boil, partially cover and reduce to a simmer.
  • Step 3

    Cook for about 45 minutes, stirring frequently, until you have a soft soupy puree. If the dal is too runny, boil for a few minutes more to reduce, or add water if you want it more liquid. You can mash it roughly to break up the parsnips, and remove the whole spices if preferred.
  • Step 4

    Season to taste. About 10 minutes before you want to serve, make the spiced butter. Heat the tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and gently fry the remaining onion. When the onion is soft, turn up the heat and add the mustard and coriander seeds.
  • Step 5

    Allow the seeds to start popping, then add the remaining garlic and cook to caramelize slightly. Then add the butter (or extra oil) and remove from heat. The butter should melt in the heat of the pan. Place the dal on serving plate, pour over the spiced butter and scatter with coriander leaves.

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