Curries, Vegan, Vegan Main Dishes, Vegan on a Shoestring

Winter Squash and Spiced Lentil Dal served with rice, chapati and yogurt. Vegan.

It’s January.  Time to break open a winter squash.  Home-grown squash will store in a cool dry environment for up to 6 months.  So they’re there just when you need them.  There’s also a fantastic variety of winter squash in the shops  these days…..

Homegrown winter squash: crown prince and hubbard…

A spicy winter squash and dal recipe that melts in the mouth, and revives the spirits.

Winter Squash and Lentil Dal.

A South Asian Dish.

winter squash and red lentil dal + steamed basmati

And here’s how to cook really nice rice: every time…

(click image for link)




Serves 4  

winter squash and lentil dal + steamed basmati


  • Approx. 800gms. winter squash : such as butternut, turban, hubbard, crown prince (all have a dense golden flesh with a sweet nutty flavour)
  • 1.5 tbs. hot oil e.g. vegetable ghee, rapeseed oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 225gms. red split lentils
  • 1tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 tsps. coriander seeds
  • 1-3 tsps. chilli powder (up to you.. you know how much chilli you like 🙂 )
  • 1.5 tsps. turmeric
  • 1.5 tsps. salt
  • 0.5 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 2 tbs. hot oil
  • 1L hot water (+ a little extra if the dahl gets too thick)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2cm. ginger
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp. chilli flakes
  • 1tbs. oil/ghee


  • Peel, deseed, wash and cut the squash into chunks, approx. 2cm.
  • Finely chop 3 garlic cloves.
  • In a wide pan, add 1.5 tbs. hot oil/ghee on a medium heat.
  • Add squash and fry 5 mins. Turning occasionally.
  • Add finely chopped garlic and fry for a further 3-5 mins.
  • Add juice of 1 lemon, stir in.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Wash lentils thoroughly.
  • Grind cumin seeds, coriander seeds, chilli, turmeric, fenugreek and salt to a fine powder.
  • In a deep casserole, add 2 tbs. oil/ghee, on a medium/high heat.
  • Add mustard seed.
  • When mustard seeds pop (30 secs.) – add washed lentils.
  • Fry 3- 5 mins. Stir to prevent burning.
  • On a medium low heat add ground spices and stir constantly to avoid burning.  2 -3 mins.
  • Add 1L hot water.
  • Bring to boil and boil hard 5 mins.
  • Reduce heat to medium.
  • Add fried squash.
  • Return to a gentle boil, then cover, reduce heat to minimum (use a diffuser if necessary) and cook on a very low heat for between an hour and an hour and a half.  The squash must be tender, and the dal soft and creamy. The slower it cooks, the better the flavour.  (Add a little extra hot water if it gets too thick)

During the last 10 mins, prepare the tarka:

  • Finely chop the onions.
  • Finely grate ginger.
  • Crush garlic.
  • In a hot frying pan, add 1 tbs. oil/ghee.
  • On a high heat, fry finely chopped onions 5-8 mins.
  • Add ginger, garlic and chilli flakes.
  • 5 mins. before serving, tip the sizzling tarka into the dahl.  Stir in.

Serve piping hot with rice/chapati/ non-dairy yogurt/chutney/pickle…and a scattering of fresh coriander leaves…







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