Mar 20, 2010

Chana Dal with Acorn Squash

Couple of days back, I had roasted acorn squash for the first time in my life. It was so delicious - the sweet, earthy flavor just melted in my mouth. People generally eat the fleshy part and discard the skin. But the roasted skin is as delicious as the flesh. I ended up eating the skin, flesh everything. I was so impressed by the vegetable, it has topped my produce list for this week.

Based on requests from some of my vegetarian friends, I was trying to post a couple of vegetarian recipes for this week.  So I thought of combining acorn squash and lentil. This recipe is also a spin off of my mom's mixed vegetable curry with chana dal.

Chana dal is a variety of yellow dal. It is basically, split skinned off black chickpea. You can find this in any Indian grocery store or you can use the yellow lentil found in any regular grocery store. Chana dal holds the shape better than the regular yellow dal even after cooking. But you can always substitute with yellow dal.

1 cup chana dal (yellow lentil)
3 cups water
1/2 acorn squash
1 inch ginger minced
1/2 yellow spanish onion chopped
1 plum tomato
1 TBS cup sweet peas 
Juice of half a lemon

1 TBS of oil ( I used olive oil)
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
4 clove
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pod

In large pot put chana dal, tomato, whole spices (clove, cinnamon stick, cardamom) and water. Bring it to a boil and then simmer it for 45 minutes or till the dal gets tender with no resistance. If you are using a pressure cooker it will take 10 minutes. I don't have a pressure cooker, so I used a large pot. After the dal is done fish out the whole spices.

Add oil in a pan. When oil gets hot, temper the oil with cumin seed. Then add ginger and cook it till it gets fragrant. Then add the onion, little salt and saute the onion till it gets light brown.  The salt helps to bring out all the moisture from the onion and helps the cooking process. Then add roasted acorn squash (recipe follows) and saute for a 2/3 minutes till the squash gets little color.

Take the tomato out of the boiled dal mixture and put in the pan and mash it with spoon. Then cook till tomato gets cooked and all the vegetables get nicely coated with it. It will take 3/4 minutes.  Then add all the dal and water to the pan. Cook it for a couple of minutes and mix the dal well with the rest of the vegetable on the pan. Season it with salt. Then finish it by adding the cumin powder, lemon juice and chopped cilantro.

Serve it with steamed rice or whole wheat tortilla or Indian roti.

Roasted Acorn squash
Cut the acorn squash into half. Then brush the inside with olive oil. Roast the squash in a 400 degree F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Time saving tip - you can boil the dal and squash at the same time and you don't even have to be in the kitchen. After boiling and roasting is done, you can come back and finish the dish, which all together takes 10-15 minutes.

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