This is real just-fill-me-up-and-satisfy me food. It would be absolutely perfect to come home to now the days are getting darker and colder. I had it once after a long, rainy dog walk which was perfect.

Post-exercise it's probably a fitness instructor's dream. Yellow split peas are full of goodness - low-fat, high-protein, high-fibre - while sweet potato is a vitamin powerhouse. Make sure you don't peel the skins, though, as they contain a lot of the nutrients (but do give them a scrub). I love how this recipe is like building layers of flavour. At ground level we've got onion and garlic: the essential foundation for many stews. Once these are soft and sweet, in go the spices to characterise this base. Smoked paprika for smokiness, thyme and oregano for earthiness, and the cajun spice mix for that distinctive peppery heat.

Up to the next floor and in go your green peppers. These have a slight bitterness (because they're picked before they're ripe) offsetting the other vegetables which are mostly sweet up to this point. All that flavour gets coated around the split peas and sweet potatoes after which the main floor (the lobby?) goes in to bring the whole stew together: the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk. Lastly, we go up to the attic. This is where we accentuate all our carefully prepared flavour-storeys. Salt is a must to enhance, well, everything, and a touch of lemon juice to add a fresh acidic note. Oh and finally, the.. birds perched atop the house? A sprinkling of flat-leaf parsely provides yet more bright, fresh flavour that really contrasts well with the cooked, umami flavour from the tomato and spice mix.

So. That's our flavour house. You may also wonder why I've used coconut milk; I find it stops the stew being too tomatoey and makes for a creamier taste and consistency. Also, it gives it a lovely orange hue which really shouts cajun! Serve in a bowl, cradled in your hands, in front of the TV.

Cajun Split Pea & Sweet Potato Stew

Serves 4
Hands-on time:
30 mins
Hands-off time:
90 mins


3 tbsp coconut or olive oil
3 red onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp cajun spice mix* see bottom of recipe for this combination of spices
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 green peppers (capsicums), sliced into strips
1 cup (215g) dried yellow split peas, rinsed in water
1 sweet potato, skin washed, cut into bite-size cubes
1 400g/14oz tin chopped tomatoes
½ 400g /14oz tin coconut milk
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsely


  1. In a casserole dish or large saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add all the spices to the onions and cook for 5 more minutes. If you like spicy food, add an extra teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
  3. Add the peppers to the pot and cook until they've softened, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the sweet potato and yellow split peas to the pot. Stir well so they become coated by the spiced onions.
  5. Pour in the tin of tomatoes and the coconut milk. Stir well and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 35-45 minutes, or until the sweet potato and split peas are cooked through and soft.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste (it may not need any pepper at all). Add a few drops of Tabasco and a squeeze of lemon. Serve hot, in wide bowls, sprinkled with flat-leaf parsely.