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Creamy Curried Pumpkin Split Pea Dal

by Sophie Gordon from The Whole Vegetable

This hearty recipe from Sophie Gordon’s The Whole Vegetable is a comforting supper that can be batch cooked. Combining cumin, cinnamon and ginger with creamy pumpkin, it will bring the warming tastes and scents of autumn into your kitchen.

From the book

Sophie Gordon


There are many dishes I could eat more than once in a week, and dal is very high on the list. I like to make it in big batches and serve it with different things each time I have it. This dal is particularly special, made in the way I’d jotted down after spending time with a local Sri Lankan family, with half of the pumpkin blended to make it even creamier. I love using yellow split peas, mostly for their texture, and they really enhance the dish, adding a bit more bite and an almost nutty taste.

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2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp black or yellow mustard seeds
1 white or brown onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp freshly grated turmeric
A large handful of fresh coriander, stems finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
4 tsp ground cumin
2-3 tsp curry powder (without salt preferred)
A small handful of curry leaves, fresh or dried
1.5-2 litres vegetable stock
1 small pumpkin or squash, raw, any variety, skin on or off
550g dried yellow split peas, soaked for at least 4 hours
salt and pepper
1 cinnamon stick
250ml coconut milk
1 lime, juice and zest

Essential kit

You will need: a blender


Put about 1–2 teaspoons of your coconut oil into a large pot over a medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop – lower the heat when they do so and transfer them to a small bowl. Heat the rest of the coconut oil in the same pan, then add your onions. Sauté until they start to go translucent and fragrant, about 5–6 minutes on a low heat. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander stalks, dried chilli flakes, ground cumin, curry powder and half your curry leaves. Stir continuously and keep frying until everything becomes nice and fragrant. Put your mustard seeds back into the pan. If it starts to dry up, you can add a dash of your stock to help continue the frying process.

Add the pumpkin, split peas, about half the fresh coriander and the rest of the stock to the pot. Stir and bring the mixture up to the boil, seasoning with salt and pepper. Once it reaches the boil, lower the heat to a simmer. Add the cinnamon stick and stir again. Cover and cook for about 45–55 minutes, until the split peas are cooked and the pumpkin is tender. Season again to taste.

Once cooked, transfer about a quarter of the mix to a blender. You may need it to cool slightly first, depending on your blender type. Add the coconut milk and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour back into the pot and stir, adding the lime juice and zest and seasoning again to taste.

Slowly heat back up, stirring continuously so that the dal does not burn on the bottom of the pan. Serve in bowls and sprinkle over the rest of the coriander to garnish.

Note: Be sure not to blend the cinnamon stick. I tend to leave it in the big pot but you can remove it before serving up should you wish.

Waste tip: I often pre-roast pumpkin for this recipe, as there is such a variety of other dishes it can also be used in and that it’s useful for. If I have pre-roasted it I would add it after the split peas have cooked. Using pre-roasted pumpkin adds a different depth to the dal. You can also use squash, but if you can’t find either, sweet potato or potatoes also work great. You could also use fresh chillies in this dish if you like a little more heat, or perhaps a bit more ginger or a pinch of cayenne pepper. The dal will keep for a week in the fridge, usually thickening up, so when reheating it you could add a dash of coconut milk or water to the pan to loosen. This also makes a great hummus. Add as much as you desire or have left over to the base recipe on page 357, a little more olive oil or lemon, and a creamy curried hummus just became your new best friend. You can of course also serve this dal with any desired sides: naan, chapatis, rotis, rice, salad… it’s really up to you. If you want to pack in some extra greens, chuck in a handful of fresh spinach or kale when heating at the final stage, allowing it to wilt and cook through. Two of the greatest things: rich fluffy baked pumpkin and dal, surely a match made in heaven. A creative take on a traditional Indian dish, transporting you to the delightfully overwhelming aromas of a local Indian kitchen.

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From the book: The Whole Vegetable

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