This pumpkin tarka dhal is richly-spiced, creamy, and deliciously warming. Simple cooking at its best — you'll want to make this a weekday dinner staple. Yellow split peas are cooked with warm spices and served with roasted winter squash. The tarka – fried spices – complements the pumpkin. Onion, garlic, and tomato, give it a really rich and robust sauce quality. You can either stir it into the dhal, or add it as a garnish before serving.
Pumpkin Tarka Dhal [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
For the Pumpkin:
- 1 small pumpkin or any winter squash
- 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
For the Dhal:
- 1 cup yellow split peas
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1 fresh chili (deseeded for less heat), chopped
- 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 1 lemon or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- A pinch of good salt
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- Fresh coriander, to serve
For the Tarka:
- 1 teaspoon oil (coconut or rapeseed work well, too)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 fresh tomato, chopped
- Water, if needed
- Heat the oven to 400°F.
- Begin by preparing the pumpkin and wash the skin to remove any mud. Cut down the middle, then scoop the seeds out from each half. Save the seeds for roasting.
- Cut each half into segments, about 1-inch thick. Arrange on a large baking tray, drizzle with the oil, and put in the oven.
- Cook for about 45 minutes, turning once. Once cooked, leave to cool a little before removing the skins.
- Meanwhile, rinse the yellow split peas really well, until the water is no longer cloudy. Put these into a large saucepan, along with the water, turmeric, garlic, ginger, chili, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and leave to cook, part-covered with a lid, for 40 minutes.
- In a frying pan, heat the oil. Add the onions and leave to cook slowly on a medium heat (for about 10 minutes). Once the onions are really soft, stir in the garlic and leave for another 5 minutes. Add the spices, stir to release the aromas, then add the chopped tomato. This can now all be left on a low heat until you're ready to serve.
- After 40 minutes of cooking, the dhal should be just about ready. Zest the lemon and add this, along with half of the juice, salt, and pepper. At this point, you can add more water if you want a soup consistency — it's up to you. Either way, cook for another 5 minutes, or longer if the split peas are still too firm.
- Spoon the dhal into warm bowls, sprinkling on the fresh coriander and garam masala. Add the tarka to this (if not stirring it in before serving), then finish with the pumpkin segments.