Roasted Squash and Red Lentil Dal


I had this squashy dal on repeat last fall – it was something I made one day to use the roasted squash I’m in the habit of having in the fridge at this time of year, and I became totally hooked on it. In the fall, when all the giant gourds are in the farmers’ markets, I often poke one with a knife and roast it whole, directly on the oven rack, while something else is baking. It takes about an hour for a large one to soften and start to collapse in on itself – once cool, it’s easy to cut open, scoop out the seeds, and then scoop the soft flesh in spoonfuls into things like soups and stews and curries and dal.

This can be made with any kind of squash – roasted cubes of it, or a bit of the diced frozen stuff you can toss right in from the bag – and sweet potato would work just as well, similarly pre-cooked (you could bake as many sweet potatoes as you like, right on the oven rack, in less than half the time), or diced raw into the pot and simmered along with the lentils, and some extra stock, water or coconut milk. And you’ll need some chewy naan – perhaps this old yeasted naan recipe I’ve been making for decades, or this pumpkin naan, made with leftover pumpkin or squash puree, or this quick naan I make using baking powder instead of yeast, and make sure I knead the dough well to develop the gluten, which gives it its wonderfully chewy texture and allows for those big bubbles.

Yields4 Servings

canola or other mild vegetable oil or ghee, for cooking

1 onion, finely chopped

1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped

salt, to taste

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 Tbsp grated ginger

2-3 tsp curry paste or spice blend, or cumin, turmeric, coriander, black pepper, fennel, mustard seed, curry leaves, in any combination you like

1/3 cup (ish) chopped cilantro (I use stems in the stew, and the leaves on top)

half a roasted winter squash (such as buttercup, butternut, Hubbard, kabocha, kuri, pumpkin), or a couple cups of cooked or roasted squash

1/3 cup dry split red lentils

2 cups (approximately) chicken or vegetable stock

a splash of coconut milk, to taste (optional)

1

In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of oil and cook the onion and jalapeño, sprinkled with a good pinch of salt, for a few minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and ginger, curry blend, paste or spices and cilantro and cook for another minute or two.

2

Scoop seeds out of the squash and discard them, and then scoop the flesh into the saucepan. Add the lentils and enough stock (and some water, if you need it) to cover it all by an inch or so, and bring to a simmer.

3

Cook, stirring often, until the lentils are soft and the mixture is saucy — add more stock and/or coconut milk or even water to loosen things up, if it needs it. Add salt as needed and serve warm, with rice or naan.

Ingredients

 canola or other mild vegetable oil or ghee, for cooking

 1 onion, finely chopped

 1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped

 salt, to taste

 2 garlic cloves, crushed

 1 Tbsp grated ginger

 2-3 tsp curry paste or spice blend, or cumin, turmeric, coriander, black pepper, fennel, mustard seed, curry leaves, in any combination you like

 1/3 cup (ish) chopped cilantro (I use stems in the stew, and the leaves on top)

 half a roasted winter squash (such as buttercup, butternut, Hubbard, kabocha, kuri, pumpkin), or a couple cups of cooked or roasted squash

 1/3 cup dry split red lentils

 2 cups (approximately) chicken or vegetable stock

 a splash of coconut milk, to taste (optional)

Directions

1

In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of oil and cook the onion and jalapeño, sprinkled with a good pinch of salt, for a few minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and ginger, curry blend, paste or spices and cilantro and cook for another minute or two.

2

Scoop seeds out of the squash and discard them, and then scoop the flesh into the saucepan. Add the lentils and enough stock (and some water, if you need it) to cover it all by an inch or so, and bring to a simmer.

3

Cook, stirring often, until the lentils are soft and the mixture is saucy — add more stock and/or coconut milk or even water to loosen things up, if it needs it. Add salt as needed and serve warm, with rice or naan.

Roasted Squash and Red Lentil Dal



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