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Melissa Hemsley’s Parsnip Dahl Topped with Roasted Parsnips and Pink Pickled Onions

Seasonality takes centre stage in Melissa Hemsley's hearty dahl, made with parsnips and topped with quick pickled onions. Perfect for a cold winter evening and with easy vegan swaps.

From the book

Melissa Hemsley


This is ideal to make at the end of the weekend with any leftover root veg that didn’t make it into the Sunday roast. It will set you up nicely for Monday’s dinner – just reheat and top with the onions and yoghurt and either freeze the rest or enjoy later in the week with Dosa-style Pancakes (page 190 of Eat Green), Buckwheat Sesame Wraps (page 205 of Eat Green) or with fresh leaves and a crispy fried egg on top.

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4 tbsp ghee or oil
900g (about 5) large parsnips
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 large onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 thumb ginger, finely grated
400g split red lentils, rinsed
2 large handfuls fresh coriander, leaves and stems finely chopped separately
3 tbsp tomato purée
1 × 400ml tin full-fat coconut milk
200g leafy greens, like chard, leaves and stems finely chopped
yoghurt, to serve (optional, use dairy-free to make vegan)
For the spice mix:
1½ tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp ground cumin (or 1½ tbsp cumin seeds, roughly ground)
2 tbsp ground coriander or (1½ tbsp coriander seeds, roughly ground)
2 tbsp black mustard seeds, roughly ground
A pinch chilli flakes or chilli powder
A big pinch sea salt and black pepper
For the pink pickled onions:
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
2 limes, juiced or 4 tbsp vinegar
A big pinch sea salt
2 tsp maple syrup (optional)


Preheat the oven to fan 220°C/Gas mark 9 and melt 2 tablespoons of the ghee or oil on a large baking tray in the oven.

Meanwhile, mix the spice mix in a small bowl and slice up three of the parsnips into about 18 wedges, say 5cm × 1.5cm, then toss the parsnip wedges in the oil on the tray with half of the spice mix. Pop in the oven for about 30–35 minutes, tossing halfway through with the maple syrup, until golden and going crispy at the edges.

In a large pan, fry the onion in the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee over a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occassionally, while you get on with everything else.

Add the remaining half of the spice mix, plus the garlic and ginger and fry for 3 minutes.

Add the diced parsnips and lentils, the chopped coriander stems and the tomato purée and let fry. After a minute, add the coconut milk, then fill up the tin four times with hot water (1.6 litres) and pour in, stirring well. Pop the lid on, bring to the boil and immediately turn down to a medium heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Stir a few times throughout to make sure the lentils don’t stick. Add more liquid if you think it needs it or if you like your dahl soupier, like I do.

Meanwhile, scrunch and massage the red onion in a bowl with the lime juice, salt and maple syrup, if using, for 30 seconds, then leave to bathe in the salty lime juice. 

Once the lentils and parsnips in the pan are cooked, add the chopped greens, pop the lid on so they steam for 3-5 minutes until just tender, then taste for seasoning. Serve up each bowl, topped with the roasted parsnips, coriander leaves, pink-pickled onions and their juices and a dollop of yoghurt, if you like.

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From the book: Eat Green

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