Sweet Potato, Broccoli and Lentil Sambar


I recently caved to a long-held desire and spent a budget-breaking €40 on a cookbook. To justify such insane expenditure, I’m going to have to cook just about everything in it – but so far, the Cornucopia: at home cookbook has more than lived up to my (significant) expectations.

At the risk of sounding like a paid reviewer (I’m not) or recipient of a complementary copy (cue a significant sigh from my purse, alas), I think I could live out of this cookbook alone. And I’m not a vegetarian. Every recipe starts with some often very-insightful background information about the recipe, and though it’s over 450 pages, plenty of recipes are followed by extensive modification suggestions, which are much more comprehensive than ‘try adding some cumin seeds’ or whatever, and often totally change the flavours involved.

One thing I would say, is that many of the recipes are laid out in a very accessible way. This is great for a beginner, but means the ‘method’ section isn’t always as efficient as possible – it will tell you for example, to dice the sweet potatoes and put them in a bowl of water to stop them browning before you start, when there’s actually plenty of time to do this later, as they’re added after the stew has been simmering away for ten minutes. I wouldn’t so much call that a criticism though, as something to be aware of if you do decide to pick up a copy for yourself.

Sambar, I can now tell you, is traditionally from Southern India and Sri Lanka: peas are cooked in a turmeric-flavoured broth, which is thickened with a ‘sambar powder’ of mixed spices and ground lentils. This dish is very much a Western interpretation, and though delicious, like many stews it was much tastier on day two, as the flavours had time to fully develop, so I’d recommend making it as far in advance as possible.


Sweet Potato, Broccoli and Lentil Sambar
Serves 4 – 6
Adapted from Cornucopia: at home

1 onion, finely diced
2 carrots, finely sliced
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 small head of broccoli, in bite sized chunks (you can include the stalk all if you like)
1 handful green beans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
75g lentils
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
3 teaspoons turmeric
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or one cinnamon quill)
Fresh coriander to garnish (optional)
Sunflower oil

  1. Place a pot of salted water to boil. Rinse the lentils and add them to the pot. Simmer until soft – 20 minutes or so for the dry puy lentils I used, probably 8-10 if you’re using red lentils. When they’re cooked, drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, blanch the broccoli florets for three minutes in boiling water. Drain, reserving 250ml of the water if you can be bothered, refresh under cool water, and set aside. (In the interests of washing up saving, leave them in a bowl big enough to add the lentils to it when they’re done).
  3. Then cover the base of a large saucepan with sunflower oil and place over a medium heat. Add the spices and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Then add the onions, and stir for 3 more minutes. After this, add the carrots, tomatoes and 250ml water (either the broccoli cooking water or just tap water).
  4. Cover, bring to a gentle simmer and reduce to a low heat, stirring occasionally. At this stage, you want to dice your sweet potato into bite-sized chunks, not too small though!
  5. After 10 minutes, add the sweet potato and simmer for another 15 minutes, until the carrots and sweet potatoes are soft.
  6. Add the beans and cook for a minute or two, and then the lentils and broccoli. Bring to a simmer and serve, either as a stew in its own right, or on rice.
  7. Garnish with coriander leaves, if desired.
4 Responses to “Sweet Potato, Broccoli and Lentil Sambar”
  1. Gillian says:

    Money well spent by the sounds of it. A friend loaned me the book and their flapjack/oatbar recipe is divine!

    • Thanks for stopping by 🙂 I’m glad you recommend the oatbar – I’ve a veritable ton of apples at the moment so was thinking about giving one of the variations a go! I’ll have to let you know how I get on!

  2. aoifemc says:

    Good stuff! I’ve had this book for ages and haven’t really taken full advantage of it yet. My only beef with it (or Quorn I should probably say) is that the recipes are for loads of people. Great if you’re feeding a group or have a decent freezer. Still, it’s a beautiful book.

    I made the cous cous stuffed aubergines from it ages ago, a brilliant recipe with an amazingly sweet tomato sauce. Yum!

  3. sheila kiely says:

    Love this, lots of store cupboard ingredients with veg. Loos vibrant and tasty mmmmmmm.

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