Squash and Red Lentil Curry
Ultimate comfort food for Autumn - fragrant warming nutritious curry. This dish is great to feed a big crowd or meal prep a big pot for a few lunches ahead. Feel free to swap veggies, legumes and spices. I decided to use Middle Eastern spice Zaatar (ideally red zaatar) which you don't expect in a curry dish for an interesting twist. You can use curry powder or any other spices you like instead but don’t be shy with your spices, the curry should taste bold and fragrant. Ideally served with rice.
- 500 g red lentils
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
- 1 1 small/ medium sized squash (Hokkaido or Sweet Dumpling variety)
- 1 large sweet potato
- 2 celery stalks (optional)
- 1 litre vegetable stock (or veggie stock cubes dissolved in water)
- 200 ml coconut milk
- 2 tbsp olive oil plus to drizzle the squash
- salt to taste
- black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp nigella seeds optional
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek powder optional
- 2 tsp garam masala
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1.5-2 tbsp Zaatar preferably red
- Pumpkin seeds, fresh coriander, basmati rice or flatbreads to serve
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Half your squash, scrape out the seeds with a spoon and cut into 4 or 6 pieces, depending on the size. Peel your sweet potato and cut into quarters. Put your squash and potato on the baking sheet, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for about 30 minutes or till edges are browned and veggies get soft.
- Peel and finely chop your onion and celery. Warm up 2 tbsp of oil the pot. Peel and grate or mince your ginger. When the oil is hot add onion with a pinch of salt and sautee on medium heat till translucent (about 5 minutes), then add celery and ginger. Keep sauteing and stirring for a couple of minutes for veggies to soften then add cumin, nigella and other whole spices if using. When spices start crackling (about 2 mins) add the rest of the spices and stir well.
- Add lentils and stock, combine well and cover. Add some salt (depending on the saltiness of your stock). Check/ stir after 15 minutes and add more stock/water if the liquid is absorbed.
- Get your squash and sweet potato out of the oven and cool for 10-15 minutes. When it is not too hot to handle peel and chop into bite-sized pieces. Mix into your curry. When the lentils are cooked add coconut milk. Mix thoroughly and reduce heat to low. Let the curry simmer with the milk for another 10 minutes.
- Serve with rice or flatbreads, sprinkle with some pumpkin seeds and garnish with fresh coriander leaves before serving.
You can cook veggies together with lentils if you don’t want to bother with the oven (just chop them into smaller pieces). However, roasting adds depth and caramelization to the flavour. Instead of red lentils, you can use other kinds of lentils or precooked/canned chickpeas or beans. You can also swap coconut milk for some plant-based cream (oat, soy). As for spices you can use curry spice mixes as well as coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice - you name it. Though zaatar gives the dish an interesting twist. Serve with some basmati rice, quinoa or naan type flatbreads (if buying naan check the ingredients as store-bought ones often contain dairy).