This dahl includes roast butternut squash for an extra creamy sweetness to the smokey spices, perfect to satisfy those take away cravings in one healthy filling dish. The butternut squash can easily be omitted if not available or in season. This recipe involves the process of tempering, a cooking technique used across India and South Asia, where spices are fried in ghee or oil and added at the end of the cooking process to flavour dahls and curries.
This can be eaten on it's own as a main or side with rice, naan and coconut yoghurt. I've also included my recipe for mint raita which pairs beautifully.
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 3cm chunks
1 onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp tomato paste
250g red lentils
500ml vegetable stock
1x400ml tin coconut milk
Handful of fresh curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1tsp chilli flakes
Fresh coriander, leaves picked
1 lime, sliced into wedges
Coconut yoghurt, optional
200g coconut yoghurt
20g mint, finely chopped
1tsp ground cumin
1 lime, zest and juice
1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan. Peel and chop the butternut squash, removing the seeds. Toss the chunks in olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes until soft.
2. In a large deep pan, add 2tbp of olive oil and sweat the onions down over a low/medium heat until soft and translucent.
3. Turn up the heat and add the garlic, ginger and spices frying for 2 minutes until fragrant.
4. Rinse the lentils in cold water and drain. Add them to the pan, stirring to coat in the spices. Pour over the vegetable stock and coconut milk, bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down and cook for 20-25 minutes. They should have a thick, porridge-like consistency but still be just holding their shape. Stir occasionally to make sure the lentils aren’t sticking, adding a little more water if necessary. Taste and season the lentils with salt and pepper.
5. Prepare the temper by heating 1 tbsp of oil in a pan. Add the chilli, mustard seeds and curry leaves and heat gently until just sizzling. Take off the heat and stir through the lentils.
6. Stir the roasted squash through the lentils, ensuring everything is piping hot.
7. To make the raita, grate the cucumber and mix with 1tsp salt. Leave over a sieve for 10 minutes to drain, squeezing as much water out as you can. Mix the cucumber together with the yoghurt, lime and cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the raita over the top of the dahl or serve on the side.