Kabocha Squash Masoor Daal is the perfect dish for chilly fall nights. Warm up your tummy with the ultimate in healthy comfort food. Make it with or without the squash, vegan or non vegan options.
This post was originally published November 13, 2007. It has been republished with fresh new content for a better user experience.
Lentils are a pulse crop that are loved the world over and can be found in so many world cuisines from France to India. They are also quite versatile and can be used in many dishes from Mochi filling to Sticky Toffee Pudding.
Kabocha Squash Masoor Daal
Daal is one of those warm comforting dishes that you can eat to your heart’s content because it is so darn good for you! Don’t get me wrong, I live for homemade mac ‘n’ cheese but whipping up a steaming pot of protein-rich spiced lentils can be equally as satisfying.
This Kabocha Squash Masoor Daal has a lovely balance of lively spices that blend well with the squash puree. It is creamy, rich and so satisfying. I serve it with a drizzle of fresh lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro.
What is Daal?
Daal (which can also be spelled as dal or dhal) is the name used in India to refer to dried split pulses such as lentils, peas, and beans. They are easy to prepare; requiring no additional soaking before cooking.
Additionally, the term Daal, et al. is also used to refer to the stew made from these easy cooking nutritious split pulses.
Daal is super easy to make and is also a cost effective meal for those days when you want to watch your spending.
Masoor Daal specifically means ‘red lentils’ as the dish is commonly named after the variety of pulse it contains.
Add Squash Purée for Extra Healthy Daal
I’ve been making my usual daal for about 8 years now and it just occurred to me that I could maybe change things up a bit. I had a very small Kabocha squash (smaller than a cantaloupe) and I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with it.
Squash is such a healthy veggie (unless you’re adding lots of cheese and cream!). It’s low in fat and high in fibre. It contains a high amount of vitamins like A, B6, C, and important bone building minerals like manganese, phosphorus, and potassium.
Plus, since it’s usually pretty cheap, it’s really great bang for your buck.
Ingredients in this Dish
- kabocha squash
- masoor daal or red lentils
- black mustard seeds
- garlic cloves
- fresh ginger
- red chili peppers
- curry powder
- dried turmeric
- ground coriander
- ground cumin
- cherry or grape tomatoes
- stock or water
- fresh lime juice
- fresh cilantro
- salt and pepper
Kabocha Squash – Feel free to use any squash variety. Butternut, acorn, or even pumpkin will do. Or, you can skip the purée altogether.
Garlic and Ginger – You will achieve best daal flavour by using these in their fresh, not dried forms.
Red Chili Pepper – Feel free to substitute chili flakes in a pinch.
Stock or Water – It is best to use stock for maximum flavour but water will do. Make this dish vegan by using vegetable stock.
Cherry or Grape Tomatoes – Feel free to omit.
Yes…fresh lime juice drizzle and cilantro are necessary!
How to Make Squash Purée in an Instant Pot
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place a rack in the bottom of the instant pot and pour in one cup of water. Placing the two halves on top of the rack, close the lid (switch the seal to ‘closed’) and set the manual timer to high for 8 minutes.
Allow the instant pot to de-pressurize naturally. Then remove the squash and let it cool for at least ten minutes.
Peel the cooled down squash and then purée it with a potato masher or potato ricer. You should have around 2 cups of squash in total.
How to Make Kabocha Squash Masoor Daal
Begin this recipe by sorting through the red lentils. Sometimes there are small stones mixed in with the dried pulses. Next, give the lentils a quick rinse in colander.
Begin frying the spices in oil. This cooking method is called a ‘tadka‘ and it allows the spices to release their best flavours. The spices only need to be heated a few moments until they become fragrant, any longer and they may burn and become bitter.
Once the tadka is done, add the onion and sauté until it becomes translucent. Next, add the garlic and ginger and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add chilies then the red lentils and season with salt and pepper.
Next, add the stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until you are happy with the consistency. Finally, add the tomatoes and squash puree. Let it cook, covered, on low for a few more minutes, until the tomatoes have softened.
Before eating, drizzle some fresh lime juice and scatter fresh cilantro leaves over the daal. Serve with steamed Basmati rice or Naan.
How to Reheat Daal
This recipe makes a pretty hefty amount (six servings over rice) which is good because it is even better the next day and extremely easy to heat up for a quick lunch or dinner.
Just pour it into a saucepan and reheat covered on low, stirring occasionally.
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