Eight Sisters, a Friend and a Dhal

My sister Abi and friend Alison live in Seaford, East Sussex, and they sometimes post photos of the white cliffs of the Seven Sisters.  I joined them both this morning to walk there, in the Seven Sisters Country Park.  Despite a very cloudy day, the scenery was stunning and the company lovely.IMG_2003Stupid people are regularly seen on the cliff tops here which is so dangerous as huge chunks regularly fall off and crash in the sea.IMG_2004That was the view I came for.IMG_2018Hello lovely ladies.IMG_2015You may recognise the coastguard cottages as they were used in ‘Atonement’ and ‘Luther’.  The lighthouse on the cliff at the far end was used in ‘The Life and Loves of a She-Devil’ and also featured in ‘Changing Rooms’.IMG_2012I love that milky sea.IMG_2011

IMG_2010We spotted 3 people on what looked like motorised paddle boards, moving quickly up the Cuckmere River.  What a fun thing to do!IMG_2008The views did not disappoint.IMG_2006After our walk we needed coffee and lunch so we went in to Seaford to Front Room.  They didn’t have any vegan options on the menu but they were happy to leave the halloumi out of the falafel burger.  IMG_2021I enjoyed my lunch; I didn’t eat any of the burger bun or the mayonnaise but I liked the actual burger, the salad and those big fat chips.  I thought that as it was not a huge portion, it wouldn’t have too many syns – I was wrong.  I would estimate the burger to be 6 ( based on 1 falafel ball being 1.5 and I think this is equivalent to 4 of those).  I think the chips would be 7-15 syns but hard to say as I don’t know how much they weighed.  Thick cut chips that are deep fried are 7.5 syns per 100g.

I hadn’t had breakfast, other than an almond milk latte and I had another almond milk latte here (HE A).IMG_2022Once home I decided to cook a meal that involved a little more effort than I usually make.  I have recently been enjoying Anna Jones’ cook book; ‘A Modern Way To Eat’.  I flicked through and chose to make ‘Dhal with crispy sweet potato and quick coconut chutney’.  Oh my goodness, the dhal was incredible.

The recipe serves 4 people so I made the full amount so we can have leftovers another day.  The ingredients list is quite long but they are mainly spices so don’t panic.  It was straightforward to make and well worth it, especially the dhal.  I am giving the recipe as 3 separate dishes because you could make just one of the three to eat with something else if you wanted to.  They do go brilliantly all together though.IMG_2034

Dhal with crispy sweet potato and quick coconut chutney (serves 4)

The Sweet Potatoes



  • 2 sweet potatoes, chopped in to 1.5 cm cubes (leave the skin on)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • olive oil



  • Preheat oven to 220°C/fan 200°C
  • Put the sweet potatoes on a roasting tray, add the salt, pepper, cumin and fennel seeds and a drizzle of oil


  • Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes until soft in the middle and crispy on the outside

Coconut Chutney (you could use pre-made mango chutney if you prefer)IMG_2029


  • 50g unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves ( I didn’t have any and there is no substitute that I could think of)
  • a little coconut oil
  • 20 g piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped


  • Place the coconut in a bowl and pour over 150 ml of boiling water.  Set aside to soak
  • After 20-30 minutes, drain the coconut and put it back in to the bowl
  •  Fry the mustard seeds and curry leaves in a little oil until they begin to crackle and then pour over the coconut
  • Season with salt and pepper , stir in the ginger and chilli and mix together

The DhalIMG_2028


  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed/chopped
  • thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped (I only had red)
  • 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (I used ground cumin)
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds (I used ground coriander)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 200g red lentils
  • 1 x 400ml coconut milk
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach
  • bunch of fresh coriander, chopped, use the leaves and stalks
  • juice of 1 lemon (I used a lime)



  • In a large saucepan, fry the garlic, ginger, chilli and red onion in a little oil for about 10 minutes
  • Add all the spices to the saucepan and fry for a couple of minutes
  • Add the lentils, coconut milk and stock.  Bring to a simmer and simmer for 25-30 minutes
  • Take the dhal off the heat, stir in the spinach and let it wilt a little
  • Add half the coriander and the lemon/lime juice

To serve, spoon the dhal in to bowls, top with the crispy sweet potatoes and coconut chutney and the remaining coriander.  I had mine with a small portion of brown rice too.  You could also serve chapattis or roti.

IMG_2031I could easily have eaten twice as much as I did as this was a very modest portion but I want another loss this week.IMG_2032This is one of the tastiest things I have eaten for a while and I will enjoy another portion another day.IMG_2033

Syn values for the dhal with crispy sweet potato and quick coconut chutney are 13.25 per portion.

Ingredient Syns for total recipe Syns for 1 portion
2 sweet potatoes Free
Spices Free
1 tbsp olive oil 6 1.5
50g unsweetened desiccated coconut 15 3.75
1 teaspoon coconut oil 2 0.5
Fresh ginger Speed
1 red chilli Speed
2 cloves of garlic Speed
1 red onion Speed
200g red lentils Free
1 x 400ml coconut milk 30 7.5
400ml vegetable stock Free
2 large handfuls of spinach Speed
bunch of fresh coriander Free
juice of 1 lemon Speed

The desiccated coconut and the tin of coconut milk have so many calories/syns so next time I will leave out the coconut chutney and use a low fat coconut milk.  Hopefully the walk will help at the scales this week.

I do need to check syns before eating things rather then at the end of the day!

About Lose Weight and Gain Health

Hi! My name is Zoe and I live in Hastings, East Sussex, with my son Harvey and dog, Milton. I have been fighting the fat for years but this time I am serious. I want to lose weight and gain health. This blog is about how I am changing my lifestyle so I can lose weight but not by just "being on a diet" but by making small changes to our lives so that as I lose weight, I gain health. I want my family to be healthy too and never have to struggle with their weight like I have. In common with many large people, I have gained and lost weight many times over the years. This time, I want to lose it and maintain a healthy low weight. I am interested in eating food that is nutrient dense and delicious and that appeals to children and adults. I do not eat animal products so follow a vegan diet. I try to use locally produced food supplemented with what I can grow myself. I support and try to use local farmers markets and farm shops. Another objective is to add more exercise to our days. It sounds so simple when I write it down :-)
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