There are dinners that are quick to prepare, there are those that take a long time and then there is the occasional one that tastes like it took a long time to make but was actually pretty quick. This is in the latter category. It’s not the quickest dinner in the world but it’s very doable on a weeknight if you have the ingredients (more or less) on hand.
Red Lentil and Winter Squash Dhal
–Inspired by Dana Treat’s Red Lentil Dhal which was inspired by The Modern Vegetarian
Yes, list of ingredients is long but most of it is spices and the dish comes together quite quickly. If you use veggie bouillon you’ll need much less salt that the recipe below calls for. It’s extra delicious with the bouillon so by all means use it if you have it, or make it if you don’t:)!
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. black or brown mustard seeds (can omit in a pinch)
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 ½ inches of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded, finely chopped (can omit and just use more chili flakes/powder)
1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric (can omit in a pinch)
Salt – about 2-3 teaspoons salt (it takes more salt than you might think unless you’re using veggie bouillon or another well-seasoned stock)
2 cups red lentils
2-3 cups diced winter squash (butternut, kabocha, pumpkin, etc.)
5 cups veggie bouillon or water
1 15-oz. can coconut milk
Juice of 1 lemon
½ a bunch of mint, chopped (can omit in a pinch)
½ a bunch of cilantro, chopped (can omit in a pinch)
Heat just enough oil to coat the bottom of a large pan and add the mustard and cumin seeds. As soon as they begin to pop (only takes about 30 -90 seconds) add the onion, turn down the heat to medium, and cook until softened – about five minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, minced jalapeno, curry powder, cumin, turmeric, and chile powder and fry for 3 minutes.
Add the lentils and stir to coat with the oil and spices. Add squash, salt, water, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the dhal is at a simmer. Cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom, until the lentils and squash have partially lost their shape and are soft – about 20 minutes. Stir in more liquid as necessary for the consistency you want. Add the chopped herbs. Cook for a minute or two then season with more sea salt and add the lemon juice to taste. Serve warm over long grain white or brown rice and with plain Greek or other whole milk yogurt if you’d like. This also freezes well.