Pumpkin Black Lentil Daal

Rhubarb and Cod - Pumpkin Black Lentil Daal

pumpkin1Welcome back to Halloween week! I’d like to introduce you to this cozy little number: Pumpkin Black Lentil Daal. If you read the previous holiday instalment (or at least glanced at the pictures) I bet you were expecting this recipe to be kitschier or, well, obvious. I mean, this is the time of year to pile on all the cheesy gore; to get a little tongue and cheek with your food; to gross out your fellow humans. I get it! And believe me I love it, but the flourishing curmudgeon in me really likes this Pumpkin Black Lentil Daal.

This Halloween recipe is something I actually want to eat and not just for the novelty of it. It’s festive enough that I could comfortably serve it at a Halloween Party if I didn’t feel up to sculpting a cream cheese skull (Get it? Head cheese!!) and it actually looks like food. Pumpkin Black Lentil Daal is something I would gladly eat any old day of the week but it just so happens to be dressed up for Halloween. It does everything to satisfy your inner Halloween-obsessed child while soothing your cynical foodie soul – a win/win in my books.

Rhubarb and Cod - Ingredients for Pumpkin Black Lentil Daal

This recipe came about when my beau and I were trying to figure out what to make for Halloween dinner. My boyfriend and I have this tradition of making India food every Halloween… Well, it’s not so much of a tradition as it is an intended tradition as this year will only be our second Halloween together. We think Indian food is the perfect, cozy thing to chew on whilst handing out candy. Last year we made Saag Paneer with homemade paneer, which, by the way, is incredibly easy to make. But this year we wanted something different. That’s where the Pumpkin Black Lentil Daal came in.

Rhubarb and Cod - Pumpkin Black Lentil Daal

Every time we visit an Indian restaurant I faithfully order Daal Makhani. It is a straight-up obsession and as we covered in a certain udon-heavy post, when I form a food obsession I will stop at nothing to recreate it at home. But, for whatever reason, I didn’t feel like making Daal Makhani to a traditional T. I thought my beau and I could stand to be more festive in our Halloween celebrations but still stay true to our stick-in-the-mud ways. And then it hit me: Why not add pumpkin to the mix? How festive is that?

Rhubarb and Cod - Pumpkin Black Lentil Daal

So here it is. My trying to be excited but not, like, too excited Pumpkin Black Lentil Daal. I think you’ll feel the Halloween spirit when you make it but you also won’t feel the need to limit it to the Halloween season. I’m thinking I might make it again in January just to be crazy, but not, like, too crazy, because daal in January makes perfect sense.

Rhubarb and Cod - Pumpkin Black Lentil Daal

No matter how you choose to mark this wacky holiday, I’m willing to bet you’ve got room for this Pumpkin Black Lentil Daal. It’ll look right at home next to these uber-festive treats, or in a cozy bowl next to the TV. Whatever your level of Halloween participation, this Pumpkin Black Lentil Daal will make you feel like you’re marking the occasion in festive style.

Rhubarb and Cod - Pumpkin Black Lentil Daal



Pumpkin Black Lentil Daal

Serving Size: 6


  • 1 cup black (beluga) lentils
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (2-inch) knob ginger root, minced
  • 2 teaspoons graham marsala
  • 1/2 -3/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. Place lentils in a large heavy-bottom pot. Cover the lentils with 2-inches of water. Add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick and place over high heat.
  2. When the water comes to a boil, salt the water and reduce the heat to a simmer. Leave the lentils to cook for 10 minutes.
  3. When the 10 minutes are up, drain the lentils in a fine mesh strainer and set aside. Return the now empty pot to the heat.
  4. Add olive oil to the pot and increase the heat to medium. Once the oil is hot add the ginger and garlic and saute until fragrant.
  5. Stir in the graham marsala and cayenne pepper and saute briefly.
  6. Add the tomato paste, pumpkin puree and water to the pot. Salt the mixture and bring to a boil.
  7. When the pumpkin mixture comes to a boil, add the lentils back in and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and leave the daal to simmer for 25 - 35 minutes stirring occasionally.
  8. Once the daal has cooked down to your desired consistency remove it from the heat. Stir in the butter and heavy cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. If desired, serve the daal with brown basmati rice, fresh riata, and hot naan. If you're short on time you can skip the riata and stir some finely chopped mint into a cup of yogurt.
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