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Squash Dal with spinach, pistachio and coconut yoghurt


I am doing very well at finding new, New Years resolutions every five minutes, I now have so many I'm starting to forget, the latest one being to revive my blog and post regular recipes. Phalanges crossed this one sticks.

My recipes will be vegetarian and hopefully easy to follow as I hope to inspire more people to enjoy the experience of cooking and eating vegetarian food. Beginning with this recipe, which will be a useful one for vegans in January and beyond. So without further ado ,

Squash dal with spinach, pistachio and coconut yoghurt.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

A squash of your choice, I used Turban squash (see Squash guide here: https://www.seriouseats.com/2017/11/winter-squash-shopping-guide.html ) It's worth trying out different varieties as they can taste soo different to the regular butternut squash

coconut yoghurt ( I used coconut collaborative )

handful of shelled pistachios

spices to blend or grind together (using a pestle and mortar, bullet blender or spice grinder) :

1 tsp ground turmeric, 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1tbsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, seeds from 1 cardamon pod (remove shell), 1 tbsp cumin seeds, 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes. Blend or crush to fine powder.

1 white onion

2 inch piece of fresh ginger, no need to peel

2 cloves garlic

2-3 curry leaves

250g red lentils

1 tin full fat coconut milk

400ml vegetable stock

2 handfuls fresh spinach

1 lime

sea salt and pepper

olive oil

pink peppercorns (optional)

handful fresh basil

handful fresh coriander

Separate spices:

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

Method:

Preheat oven 180 degrees fan or 200 conventional

First, cut your squash into large chunks. I slice into wedges top to bottom, then in half. Don't worry about deseeding at this stage. Place the squash on roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil and the 1 tsp of chilli flakes and generous pinch of sea salt. Rub to coat evenly. Roast for approx 30-35 mins or until the flesh is soft to touch, shaking occasionally.

Once you have blended your spices - dry fry* them in a pan, they are ready when you can smell the aroma coming off, but don't take it too far or they will become bitter. 1-2 mins on a medium heat.

Dice the onion and sweat with a little oil and salt. Grate the ginger and garlic and add to onions, then add the spice mix. Cook out for a further 2 minutes, stirring often.

Next, add the lentils - stir to coat in the spices then pour in your stock and coconut milk and add curry leaves. Stir occasionally, it has a tendency to stick to the base of the pan, simmer on medium - low heat for approx 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft and the dal is creamy.

In the mean time, dry fry your extra spices (except chilli), just until they are toasted and aromatic, crush lightly. Stir through dal along with the zest and juice of a lime. The acidity cuts through the rich dal, you can add more to taste. Check seasoning.

While you are waiting for the dal to cook :

Roughly chop the pistachios, basil and coriander.

Take squash out when cooked - deseed and taste, if you like the seeds can also be used to garnish.

When the dal is cooked, turn off the heat, remove curry leaves and stir through the spinach to gently wilt.

To serve:

Place two chunks of squash on each plate, then spoon on the dal. Top with a little coconut yoghurt then scatter chopped pistachios and fresh herbs. Rub a few pink peppercorns between your fingers and thumb over each plate to add pretty pink peppery shells to the colourful dish. And enjoy!

Leftovers keep really well - add a splash of water to a pan then spoon in dal to reheat and loosen.

*dry frying is as it sounds, frying with no oil.


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