I’ve been a sorry excuse for a half-Indian woman because I just started making dal for the first time in my many years on this earth. I’ve eaten a lot of dal, but it’s just not something I’ve ever tried to cook until this year.
I could kick myself for keeping my kitchen dal-less for such a long time, because it’s so delicious, easy (maybe about 30 minutes total with the Instant Pot) and my daughter is dal’s #1 FAN. She basically ignored everything else on her plate when this dal was on it.
What’s the dal?
Dal means “split lentils,” and there are countless different versions that you can make. but they are all basically at the intersection of curry, soup and porridge. Some people like dal a little thicker like a creamy mash and others like dal a little thinner like a brothy lentil soup (this style is very common with yellow lentils).
I’m not a dal recipe expert by any stretch of the imagination, but the other night I winged it with my Instant Pot and a bag of red lentils (masoor dal). The result was some really tasty dal that also included an extra nutritious and not-so-secret (because it’s in the title of the recipe) ingredient: pumpkin.
The consistency of this pumpkin dal is super creamy—like a mash or porridge. I’d go as far as calling it abundantly cozy, the exact thing I want to be eating for breakfast in the winter. Also lunch and dinner because dal’s an all-day-everyday food like that.
The flavor is rich from the coconut milk (and ghee, if you use it), but it’s also very approachable and almost basic—at least for a curry. It’s purposefully not very spicy because I was cooking, in part, for a toddler who is hot and cold about spicy foods. I make a lot of food this way these days so everyone can enjoy it at their own heat level through their choice of toppings.