Homestyle Dal with Pumpkin

This image courtesy of Jack Turkel

My grandmother was an excellent cook, and this particular recipe was one of her favorites–and mine as well. She traditionally made it using an Indian variety of orange pumpkin, but any kind of pumpkin (especially sugar pumpkins) or a hard squash (such as butternut or acorn) will work well. The result is always a hearty, healthy soup with a lovely edge of sweetness.


Preparation Time15 min

Preparation Time - Text15 minutes

Cooking Time45 min

Cooking Time - Text45

Cooking MethodSauteeing



Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe CourseAppetizer, Main Course, Side Dish

Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Gluten-free, Halal, Kosher, Lactose-free, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

MealDinner, Lunch

Taste and TextureSavory

Type of DishSoup


  • 2 cups (350 g) dried masoor dal or split lentils of your choice, washed and drained
  • 8 oz (250 g) pumpkin, peeled and diced into ¾-in (2-cm) dice
  • 7 cups (1.75 liters) water
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2½ teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 dried red chili peppers, broken in half
  • 6-8 fresh curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 2 fresh green chili peppers, minced
  • 1 tomato (about 5 oz/150 g), diced
  • 1 teaspoon Asian red chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • 4 tablespoons minced fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)
  • Juice of ½ lime


  1. Bring the lentils, pumpkin, and water to a boil in a heavy pot. Remove any surface scum that collects on top. Add the turmeric and salt and reduce the heat to low. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes or until the lentils become soft and mushy and the pumpkin is fully cooked. Stir often to prevent sticking. Set aside.

  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for 3-4 seconds. Add the dried red chili peppers, curry leaves, garlic, ginger, green chili peppers, tomatoes, and Asian red chili powder or cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the cooked lentils and pumpkin to this mixture. Mix well, adding more water as needed. The consistency should be like a soft porridge. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.

  3. Stir in the fresh coriander leaves and lime juice. Transfer to a serving bowl, serve hot.


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