Pumpkin, lentil and spinach daal


Serves around 4, depending on appetite.

150g dried red lentils
4 fat cloves of garlic
1 large white or red onion
1 tsp cumin (seeds or ground)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 red chilli (the general rule is the smaller they are, the hotter they are) or pinch of the dried stuff
A grating of fresh ginger or pinch of dried
1 tbsp oil
100g pumpkin purée
100ml coconut milk or natural yoghurt
100g spinach (fresh or frozen)
Zest and juice of a lemon

First rinse your red lentils thoroughly under cold running water, and set to one side.

Peel and finely chop your garlic, and peel and finely slice the onion, and toss them into a saucepan or frying pan – ideally with a non stick bottom, but if you don’t have one don’t worry, just use a little extra oil and be very vigilant about stirring it so it doesn’t all stick! Add the cumin, turmeric, finely chopped chilli and grated ginger, then stir in the oil and turn on the heat, low and slow to soften the garlic and onions and so as not to burn the spices.

When the onions have softened (and turned a brilliant yellow colour from the turmeric), add the rinsed red lentils, water, pumpkin purée and the lemon juice, and bring the heat up to medium for 8-10 minutes to soften the lentils. You may need to add more water, depending on how ‘wet’ your purée is.

When the lentils are soft and swollen, add your coconut milk or yoghurt to sweeten and add a soft creamy texture. If you’re using coconut milk, you can add it while the daal is still on the heat. If you’ve opted for yoghurt, remove the daal from the heat and add it slowly, a tablespoon at a time, stirring to stop it from splitting.

Tear up the spinach and stir through to wilt before serving, and garnish with the lemon zest.

And enjoy! I like mine with fluffy rice on the side, and leftovers in a sandwich or pitta bread the next day…

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack


  1. If you’re on a budget, and unless you grow the stuff (I do grow spinach beet and recommend it to anyone) definitely use frozen spinach in dahls/curries. The price difference is significant, and oddly enough because of the way it’s prepped, you need less than fresh!

  2. PS This looks good! I have a number of home-grown pumpkins currently awaiting transformation into puree. I’m bookmarking this for later use.

  3. This looks amazing. I don’t have pumpkin but I will have squash (from daughter’s allotment) so I shall get stuck in and make some as soon as I can. Thanks very much (yet again).
    J x

  4. Hi ya – couldn’t find how much water to add in your recipe (but I was being pestered by small people at the time). Anyway, it made up lovely thank you ( I used mushed up roasted squash that was done when the oven was on yesterday instead of puree and didn’t have any kind of lemon juice but found some tamarind concentrate in the back of the cupboard instead). Small girl complained of green bits but I told her they’re like the ones I put in green eggs (a.k.a. scrambled eggs with wilted chopped up spinach in) and she and her brother ate it all up with rice, peas and mango chutney. Success! Getting pumpkin/squash into them is quite hard – previously I’ve only succeeded with soup. Now I’m wondering about “potato” cakes, hmm…

  5. I added about a pint and I think it was a bit too much. I also let my lentils soak in a little bit of water before cooking them so maybe if they went in dry a pint would be about right?

  6. I tried this recipe with courgette puree -made it from scratch- and the result was delicious!

  7. I had this for lunch- well, an approximation of this- and it was delicious!
    My kitchen scales are broken at the moment, so I have no idea if my 10tbsp of lentils were enough or too many, and I didn’t have any pumpkin (puree or otherwise) so I used a tub of heavily reduced butternut squash ‘spaghetti’ instead (added alongside the onion and garlic, they broke down fairly easy to create a smoother texture). I also chucked in a couple of mugs of water, so I probably spent extra time cooking it off, but it still tasted great!

  8. This recipe is amazing. I use 500ml water which works really well. I have made it twice in 3 days, and the second time I made it I had to double the batch as everyone loved it so much. We finished it today (after I begrudgingly gave some to hubby to take to work for lunch) and I am now in withdrawal! Will make again tomorrow! Thank you!

  9. I made this last night, doubled the amounts to make a large batch. Had for dinner, lunch today and will have for dinner tonight.

    DELICIOUS! thanks Jack, you’ve made my veggie mon-fri a little more exciting!

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