Becoming Kindred Blog

Pumpkin & Red Lentil Curry

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Lentils are a relatively new addition to our family menu. Other than enjoying them in the dal that our friends made whenever we would share an Indian feast, until this past year, they weren’t legumes that I had cooked with much. However, they have become an important player in our meal planning both for taste and budget. As a source of protein for those with a limited budget, I’m pretty excited about this recipe. Because I use my homemade chicken broth, there is even greater inexpensive  nutrients added.

Pumpkin and squash are some of our main nutrition packed vegetables through out the winter. We grew most of our own this year from local heirloom seeds so  I have also been saving seeds as we use up the squash. Unfortunately, we lost several squash due to an extreme temperature change while we were away but I was able to save quite a lot by cooking and freezing it right away.

Anyways, on to the recipe! Pumpkin and Red Lentil Curry is currently one of our most favorite meals.  It has so much flavor and works well with a variety of squash as well as pumpkin. This is quite a big recipe and while I can’t tell you exactly how many servings, I can tell you that we get two generous meals for the five of us plus enough for lunch. It freezes very well so I always put one jar in the freezer for a busy day in the future. It doesn't generally stay in there for long.

Ingredients:

1 med onion diced
2 tbs Butter
2 tbs fresh ginger (or 1.5 tsp dried)
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp tumeric
5 c chicken broth (I have also used water.)
1.5 c Red lentils* (I sometimes use the green lentils too, they just have a longer cooking time)
5 c. pumpkin or winter squash (cubed)**
1 can coconut milk (Aroy D has no additives or preservatives)
2 tbs honey
1 tsp Sea Salt

Instructions:

1.     Combine spices (including ginger and cloves) in a small bowl. Do it! Or at least have them all together on the counter or the same searching frenzy that I experienced the last time I made it will happen to you!

2.     Melt butter in a large saucepan (I use my cast iron.) and sauté the onions until tender.

3.     Stir in pumpkin and spices  cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

4.     Add broth, bringing to a boil. Cover and simmer until pumpkin is tender. About 15 min.

5.     Stir in lentils and continue to simmer until the lentils are tender.  About 10 minutes and I mush up any remaining chunks of pumpkin/squash.

6.     Add the coconut milk, honey, and sea salt.

7.     Serve alone or on rice. I like to serve it with a sprinkle of cilantro, a lime wedge and a dollop of plain yogurt.

·      *   Ideally, the lentils should be soaked for several hours as they are high in phytic acid which doesn’t allow our bodies to absorb the nutrients in the same way. “In general, soaking beans and then cooking removes about 50 percent of phytic acid. One report with peas and lentils shows that close to 80 percent of phytic acid can be removed by soaking and boiling. Boiling beans that haven’t been soaked may remove much less phytic acid.” (See Weston A Price link for detailed explanation).  I’ll be honest and say that I often forget these days but ideally, I put them to soak in very warm water with a splash of vinegar (maybe a teaspoon) for about seven hours. It’s an especially important step though for the green lentils.

·      ** I have also often used squash that I had already cooked, in which case, I just add it and the lentils together. This cuts down the cooking time.

Do you have a favorite lentil or squash recipe? Please share it in the comments!

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