Pumpkin dal

I have always been the one (shamelessly so you might add!) who sneaks in a new untested recipe on unsuspecting guests. It always scares my Mom whenever I tell her I am 'experimenting' on a new recipe when there are guests in-house. But really, for me, trying out a new recipe is like a cook's reward, something that keeps me going. Sure, there have been a few mishaps and last minute runs to Safeway to activate backups, but more than often the new dish has been a great hit and has kept the fun going for me in entertaining!

So we had an unplanned visit from a few close friends last night. As luck would have it all I had on hand was pumpkins - two small sugar pie pumpkins which I had picked up on my morning TJ's visit. Together we brain-stormed a lot about what to cook and finally decided to be brave enough to make it a pumpkin night.. afterall isn't Halloween just around the corner! I made the traditional Marathi lal-bhoplyachi bhaji (red pumpkin sabji) with some left-over butternut squash soup from a day before. Our sweet ending was the pumpkin kheer which I was fairly confident would turn out well considering I had just made it the week before... and now my experimentation began! I have been itching to try my hands on this pumpkin dal recipe for quite some time now and what better company to try this on than a few unsuspecting close friends who are always game to be the perfect guinea-pigs :)

On a stormy cold evening we gathered together in the dining room overlooking the pouring rain with a scrumptious meal of rice, pumpkin dal and lemon pickle with a side of a bold merlot and needless to say the freshest batch of gossip and a whole lot of giggling over nothing!

Recipe: pumpkin dal
Serves 4
1/2 sugar pie pumpkin (roasted and mashed) OR 1C canned pumpkin puree
1C red masoor daal
4C water (more or less per the desired soupy consistency of the dal)
2 small red thai bird chilis
1 medium onion - finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic - smashed
1/2tsp mustard seeds
1/2tsp cumin seeds
3Tbsp vegetable oil
1tsp coriander powder
1/8tsp turmeric powder

  1. If using whole pumpkin, cut the pumpkin in half. Remove inner strings and seeds. Place the pumpkin halves on an aluminium foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with another aluminium foil and roast for an hour and half in a pre-heated 375F oven. Remove from oven, let cool and using a fork take out the roasted pumpkin mass and smash using a potato masher to a thick consistency. 1 whole small sugar pie pumpkin will give you about 2C roasted pumpkin puree. This recipe uses half of that.
  2. Heat 1/2Tbsp oil in a large pot. 
  3. Temper with 1/2tsp cumin seeds.
  4. When cumin seeds start to sizzle, add chopped chilis and onion and saute until the onions start to brown.
  5. Then add mashed pumpkin puree and saute for a minute or two.
  6. Add cleaned and rinsed masoor dal, turmeric powder and water.
  7. Bring to a boil. When dal starts to boil, reduce heat to simmer and simmer covered for 20-25 mins or until the lentils are well-cooked.
  8. Remove from heat. Add coriander powder and salt to taste and set aside.
  9. Heat a small tarka pan with 2.5Tbsp oil. When hot, add mustard seeds.
  10. When the seeds start to pop add smashed garlic and cook on high heat for a minute or so taking care not to burn the garlic.
  11. Remove from heat. Add the tarka to the daal just before serving.
  12. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro and green onions. Serve with rice or chapatis.