One of my favorite Indian dishes is daal. There are so many variants of daal that this “dish” could fill a cookbook. I made this version after picking up a jar of tamarind paste and daydreaming about what to do with it. The tartness of the tamarind is a wonderful surprise that is mellowed and smoothed by the canela. Though black beans are traditionally used in latin dishes, they worked really well with these Asian flavors.
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
2 cups dried black beans
1-1/2 cup yellow split peas
1-15 oz can sweet potato purée
1-15 oz can coconut milk
1-2 T tamarind paste [I used Neera's]
1 large cinnamon stick [I used a stick of Mexican cinnamon called canela]
2 star anise pods
~ 2 quarts vegetable stock [to cook the black beans]
Coconut oil for sautéing the onions and garlic
Optional garnishes: fresh cilantro, non-dairy yogurt [So Delicious plain yogurt is our choice], cinnamon nibs, shredded coconut.
Soak beans overnight. Drain and rinse. Place in a large pot and cover with vegetable stock by a couple inches. Add the star anise and cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Add the split peas and continue cooking until the beans and peas are tender.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Sauté the onions, ginger and garlic in a spoonful of coconut oil until softened. Using a whisk, mix the sweet potato purée, coconut milk and tamarind together until the mixture is homogenous. Add into the pan with the onions. Cook covered on a low simmer for ten minutes. [Taste for seasoning and if you want to add more tamarind to make the sauce tarter, now is the time to add it in.]
Once tender, drain the beans and remove the star anise and cinnamon.
Transfer the beans to an oven-safe dish and stir in the sauce mixture. [If you need to extend the sauce, add in some vegetable stock or water.]
Bake at 350°F until bubbly.