When I walked into my local Trader Joes’s last week, my eyes were delighted by the array of pumpkin products being carefully placed by the wonderful staff. I cheerfully tossed some of my favorite fall items into my cart and began to ponder different dishes. Whenever it begins to cool down in the South, or if I start thinking about the mountains, I crave warm soup or stew recipes bursting with flavor. And thus begins my dalliance, or casual affair, with an Indian inspired stew featuring pumpkin.
Dal, which is derivation of an ancient Sanskrit word, simply means “to split.” In the modern sense, it refers to pulse crops such as peas, lentils, or beans that are split and do not require soaking before you cook them. The term dal also refers to stews prepared from these crops. Dal, a versatile comfort food, is prepared in an infinite number of ways throughout Southeast Asia, especially India. Dal may contain a variety of spices, vegetables, meats and is most often eaten with rice or naan bread. The recipe listed below describes my most recent venture with a curried pumpkin dal.
Fear not, you do not have to peel, chop, or cook a fresh pumpkin (unless you so desire) to achieve a delectably creamy dal. Using canned pumpkin puree delivers wonderful flavor and depth to the dish without adding saturated fats from coconut cream/milk or ghee. Even better, dal is an easy one-pot meal that you can prepare the night before and warm up for those crazy, hectic weeknights. It even tastes better the day after cooking. Serve over rice (use frozen microwavable rice for an additional time saver) or naan bread and you have a complete, kid-approved meal.
Curried Pumpkin Dal with Lentils and Autumn Vegetables
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp ginger root peeled and minced
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) or substitute 1 1/2 cups cubed fresh pumpkin
- 1 1/2 cups chopped murasaki (white sweet potato) or substitute baby potatoes
- 2 cups celery diced
- 2 cups carrots diced
- 2 cups cauliflower florets cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 serrano pepper (seeds removed) minced
- 3-4 tbsp curry powder*
- 3/4 cup yellow lentils
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- 1 lemon juiced
- salt to taste
- 1 cup fresh cilantro for serving
- 1/2 cup toasted pepitas for serving
- Heat a bit of olive oil or vegetable broth in a large dutch oven pot over medium heat.
- Sautee garlic, ginger, onion, potatoes, celery, carrots, cauliflower, serrano pepper, 3 tbsp of curry powder and a pinch of salt for 10 minutes.
- Add pumpkin puree and cook for 1 minute.
- Add lentils and vegetable stock.
- Bring pot to a low simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Add lemon juice.
- Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Lentil Dal is wonderful on its own as a soup, served over rice, or with naan bread. Top each bowl with fresh cilantro and some toasted pepitas.