Cozy Pumpkin Lentil Dahl (vegan)

reading time: 3 min

vegan pumpkin lentil stew, dahl, dhal, dal, rice, dinner, lunch, recipe

This dish marks the official marriage of two of my favourite foods: pumpkin and dahl. (I know, pumpkin season is almost over, but I'm squeezing the last drop out of it!)

Like I already mentioned in my basic Indian dhal recipe, dahl (or dhal, dal or daal) is my personal comfort food. It's a kind of South Asian lentil stew that is often served with rice - you could say, it's the Asian equivalent to Mexican chili: just toss some legumes and veggies into a pot, mix in the spices and let it simmer until it becomes a yummy stew-y mass

In this case, I used pumpkin to create some cozy, wintry comfort food. However, feel free to replace this with sweet potato or any other vegetable you like! Or: sub 1 cup of coconut milk for an extra creamy and delicious dish!


Preparation time: 30 - 60 mins
Main ingredients: lentils, pumpkin
difficulty level: easy
serves: 4
suitable for: vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, low-fat 


1 1/2 cups red lentils *
1 medium-small Hokkaido pumpkin (around 700g)
4 cups water
1 tsp vegetable stock concentrate
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced 
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 spring onion, chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp curry powder or turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
Salt & pepper to taste 

1 cup (uncooked) brown rice
1 cup water (if using a rice cooker) OR 2 cups water

* I think the most traditional way to prepare dahl is with either red lentils or brown lentils, but you can use whichever lentils you prefer - I just like red lentils the most.

For the dahl:

Turn heat on high, add onion, garlic and ginger in a large saucepan with a few tablespoons of water and sautée for 2-3 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add lentils, water and vegetable stock concentrate to the saucepan and bring to the boil. Cut your washed pumpkin into bite-size chunks (I love Hokkaido pumpkin for recipes like this because you don't have to peel it!) and add to the pot. Once everything has come to the boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring every now and then to prevent sticking. Add the green onion and your spices. 

Let simmer on low heat for 40 minutes or until soft and creamy (most of the water should be absorbed, and the consistency of the dahl should resemble a stew or chili).*

In the meantime, prepare your rice.

For the rice:  

Cook your brown rice in a rice cooker (i can only recommend this handy-dandy thing!) or bring twice the amount of water to the boil in a pot, then reduce to medium-low heat setting, add the rice and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring every now and then. In a rice cooker, brown rice takes only about 30 minutes to cook, so no big deal.

Top off with a bit of cumin, cracked black pepper and a basil leaf for decoration ;)

*Red lentils only take about 10 minutes to cook, but with dhal it's pretty much the same as with Mexican chili: the longer it cooks, the better. This will allow the flavours of the spics to mingle and meld together with the lentils. 

Cook once, eat twice

Since my boyfriend and I try to be as efficient as possible in the kitchen, we always cook enough food to cover dinner and lunch the next day. Lucky for us, this pumpkin dahl tastes just as amazing – if not better – on the following day. However, it does continue to thicken up as it sits so you may need to some broth, soy milk or water when you reheat. 

- Instead of browns rice, feel free to use basmati rice, Jasmine rice, or even quinoa.
- To cut down on cooking time and also ease digestion, soak the lentils for 2 to 4 hours beforehand.