The subdued shades of green, so dominant throughout the summer months, in our gardens and at farmer’s markets, are quickly being replaced with fantastic bursts of golden yellow and brilliant orange. Acorn, butternut, crooked neck, hubbard, and kabocha are some of the different squash varieties, which can easily be substituted for each other in your favourite squash recipes. This creamy textured squash and red lentil dal will guarantee to provide warmth as the autumn chill arrives. Toss in a generous handful of chopped spinach or bitter greens near the end of cooking to add more vegetables to the dish. It is worth searching out fragrant fresh curry leaves, whose aroma will nicely blanket your kitchen, and whose flavour, I promise, you will quickly find addictive! Serve with rice as a light meal or all on its own as a satisfying soup.
2 ½ cups squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
¾ cup split red lentils (masoor dal)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp cayenne or chile powder
4 cups of water
1 cup of canned coconut milk
1 to 1 ½ tsp salt
2 shallots or 1 small onion, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 branch (8-10 leaves) fresh curry leaves
2 dried red chiles
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp coriander, roughly chopped
Put squash, red lentils, spice powders and water into a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil and skim off scum. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Add salt and check to see that both squash and lentils are cooked. If not, cook for another 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in one cup of canned coconut milk.
Prepare the tempering:
Heat vegetable oil over medium high heat in a small frying pan. Add mustard seeds. When they begin to pop add sliced shallots, curry leaves and dried red chiles. Cook for 5 minutes or until the shallots are light brown and translucent. Add the chopped garlic and cook for a minute.
Spoon all of the tempering mixture into the dal. Adjust seasoning, if needed.
Garnish with chopped coriander and serve.