butternut squash dhal with coconut chutneyIn these parts, dhal and rice is a staple food. My first encounter with it was at our neighborhood Indian Restaurant’s lunch buffet. Their’s is a black bean color and struck me as tasting like Beanie Weenies, so I tended to skip it.

However, my taste buds have grown up and have come around to this staple dish. Dhal is very much like curry, an algamation of many spices coming together in a myriad of tasty ways.

One of my favorite campus lunch spots, Holy Cow, offers a dhal and rice bowl with a scoop of coconut chutney. Inspired I set about to recreate their goodness infused with my favorite flavor notes: butternut squash and tamarind. Great on top of chewy brown rice, we also enjoy this with a baked cut up Morningstar Chik Patty

Butternut Squash Dhal with Coconut Chutney

butternut squash dhal with coconut chutney

My dhal recipe makes use of my trusty pressure cooker. If you are without such a fortunate tool, simply extend the cooking time and replensh liquids as needed.

In a pressure cooker saute:

  • 1/2 of a large onion, chopped

When the onions turn translucent, add:

  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbs yellow curry paste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp clove
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric

Stir and cook briefly, about 1 minute.


  • 1 cup of lentils
  • 10 oz of chopped butternut squash
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk

tamarind liquidLid, and bring pressure cooker up to pressure. Cook over low heat, maintaining pressure for 20 minutes or until lentils are soft and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper, a Tbs of vinegar and the following tamarind liquid. Serve atop rice with a scoop of chutney and garnish with cilantro.

Tamarind Seasoning Liquid
This is a favorite top note to add to dhal and curries. Tamarind is quite tart, but lends a surprising perfect touch to many dishes.

Using tamarind paste sold in a compact brick, break off a 1 inch piece. Break up into 1 cup of water and heat. Stir to faciliate the tamarind paste breaking up into a sauce. Continue to heat and stir till the pulp is broken up. Use this resulting liquid as a finishing season to the dhal, stirring in 1/2 – 3/4 cup. Additionally the liquid may be drizzle on each dish individually.

Coconut Chutney
coconut chutneyIs chutney a respite from spiciness? A hit of chili? A salve for the burn? I’m not entirely sure. I use it as a little of all of the above. Mainly I think its another layer of flavor with which one may individually alter their dish. For families cooking for both kids and adults, chutney may serve as a way to individually spice up a dish, while allowing the main meal to remain on a kid appropriate spice level.

In a food processor puree thoroughly:

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup of onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp jalapeno
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp peanut butter
  • 1 Tbs coconut milk
  • 2 Tbs mandarin orange juice
  • several mandarin orange slices, no seeds


posted February 7th, 2006 at 6:36 am

Wow. That looks incredible. I just happen to have a butternut squash that was waiting for this recipe.

posted February 7th, 2006 at 12:09 pm

The Dhal sounds great – never made it with squash before. Worry that the coconut milk is high in fat though.

  • If using lite coconut milk, the total amount of fat it contributes for the whole dish is only 8g. I also didn’t specify how many servings this makes- which further knocks down the fat. I’d guess this makes 8-10 servings of dhal- which means there is 1g or less of fat from the coconut milk per serving.

    If coconut milk isn’t an ingredient you want to use- simply substitute more water for your cooking liquid.


- kara
posted May 14th, 2006 at 11:00 am

Sounds delicious…being Indian, I’m actually a bit surprised at this combination, though as I said, it does sound delicious

Dhal and Chutney are both used as independent side dishes – chutney is usually more hot than dhal, so I guess a combination of the two could actually be quite interesting to experiment with..

I’d ideally recommend having a roti (also called chappati) as the main dish for this combo, could make a really good meal

Vic, Plant Oils A-Z

- Castor Oil
posted August 16th, 2008 at 10:18 am

Thanks for this post. I’ve been reading about Indian cooking via pressure cooker and it’s helpful to see what people are doing, as I’m considering purchasing such a cooker. This dish looks simply tasty.

- TikiPundit
posted February 23rd, 2009 at 9:42 am

I made this recipe last night for the Oscars, on a hunch that Slumdog Millionaire would win, and I was right. YUM! No pressure cooker. Served with basmati rice and garlic naan from Trader Joe’s.

Here are the few mods I made:
For the dal:
I used garam masala instead of the cumin/cinnamon/clove and added a tomato near the end – oh and a little jalapeno too. I omitted the tamarind seasoning. I wasn’t sure about the curry paste. All I could find was Thai yellow curry paste, so I used that and it was just fine.

For the chutney:
I added quite a bit more jalapeno, since we like a good kick. Also, I was unable to find unsweetened coconut on short notice, so I thought the mandarin juice would have been too sweet. I subbed a little more coconut milk for the juice.

Overall this was a wonderful recipe for a rainy night in with friends. My husband was shocked when I told him this was a vegan meal. He never would have believed that vegan could be so satisfying and delish. Flavor, flavor, flavor!

- Ketra
posted November 7th, 2011 at 11:22 pm

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