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

This dish is ideal to make at the end of the weekend with any leftover root veg that didn’t make it into the Sunday roast.

  • TIP: If you have vegetable stock, use it instead of hot water for extra flavour.
  • WASTE NOT: Swap the parsnips for carrots, sweet potato, squash or cauliflower and you can use kale or spinach in place of the chard.

Takes 40 minutes, feeds 6


  • 4 tbsp ghee or Fairtrade olive oil
  • 5 large parsnips (about 900g)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 thumb of ginger, finely grated
  • 400g Fairtrade split red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 large handfuls of fresh coriander, leaves and stems finely chopped separately
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 × 400ml tin of full-fat Fairtrade coconut milk
  • 200g leafy greens, like chard, leaves and stems finely chopped
  • Yoghurt, to serve (optional)

Spice mix

  • 11/2 tsp ground Fairtrade turmeric
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin or 11/2 tbsp cumin seeds, roughly ground
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander or 11/2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp black mustard seeds, roughly ground
  • A pinch of chilli flakes or chilli powder
  • A big pinch of sea salt and Fairtrade black pepper

Pink pickled onions

  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • Juice of 2 limes or 4 tbsp vinegar
  • A big pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tsp maple syrup (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to fan 220°C/Gas Mark 9 and melt 2 tbsp of the ghee or oil on a large baking tray in the oven.
  • Mix the spices in a small bowl and slice up three of the parsnips into about 18 wedges, say 5cm × 1.5cm, then toss them 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 tbsp of ghee over a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the rest 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 it 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.

Fairtrade Ambassador, Melissa Hemsley is a cook, author and champion of sustainable, nourishing food.

Recipe extracted from her book Eat Green. Published by Ebury Press. Photo: Philippa Langley

This recipe has been shared as part of our Fairtrade Fortnight 2022 Choose The World You Want festival.

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