Chef Mark Allison

Mark Allison, Executive is Chef of Culinary Innovation at the Cabarrus Health Alliance. Check out for more recipes and a list of upcoming cooking classes with Chef Allison.

Dal or dahl is as common in India as roasted potatoes are in England or mac and cheese in America. The word means dried legume, as in lentil, pea, chickpea or fava bean.

Dal is also the name for the thick purée, stew made from these legumes. It may be a nutritious, humble meal served with rice, or it may be just one of several dishes served as part of a more elaborate Indian meal.

It is found on every Indian table every day, rich man or poor man, rain or shine. So today in the middle of winter I’m making Dal to warm by boys through as they return from school and work.

Only I’m using red quinoa instead of the traditional legume. Why change the main ingredient, one because quinoa is packed with nutrition and two I didn’t have any lentils in the house when I decided to make this dish.

Yes I’m being honest, where there is a will there is a way and it turned out pretty good if I say so myself. Plus I wanted to use up some sweet potatoes, I hate waste and I never throw things out, I always find a way to use them up.

So we have a fabulous family “vegetarian” meal tonight of quinoa dal with roasted sweet potatoes. Simple, easy to make and packed with good nutrition, hope you enjoy!

Serves 4 to 6


3 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium dice

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 red onion, peeled and sliced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon chili flakes

1 cup red quinoa

1 cup wild rice

4 cups low in sodium vegetable stock

1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro

How to cook:

Pre-heat oven to 400’f

Place the sweet potato in a small roasting tin, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season.

Pop the tray into the oven to roast for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Heat the remaining oil in a large pan and add the onion, season, and then fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and spices, turn the heat to low and cook for 2 minutes more.

Add the quinoa and 2 ups of stock. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes until the quinoa is tender.

While the quinoa is cooking, place the rice into a medium size saucepan and pour in the stock. Place the pan on the stove over a high heat, bring the stock to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender.

Serve the quinoa dahl with the roasted sweet potatoes, rice and sprinkle with the chopped coriander.

Mark Allison is Executive Chef of Culinary Innovation at the Cabarrus Health Alliance. Check out for a list of upcoming cooking classes with Chef Allison.  Want more recipes?  Visit

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