Serve this colorful, perfectly spiced stew with your favorite steamed grains, such as rice or quinoa, or whole grain bread. Not a fan of pumpkin? An equal amount of butternut, acorn, or delicata squash will also work in this red lentil dal.

By Darshana Thacker Wendel,


  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small pumpkin (2 lb.), peeled, seeded, and cut into ¾-inch pieces (5 cups)
  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped tomato
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach


  • In a large skillet cook mustard and cumin seeds over medium 2 to 3 minutes or until toasted and starting to pop. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add onion, jalapeño, ginger, and garlic; cook and stir about 10 minutes or until onion is tender, adding water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, as needed to prevent sticking.
  • Add the next seven ingredients (through paprika) and 5 cups water; stir well. Cover and cook about 20 minutes or until lentils are just tender. Stir in lime juice, salt, and black pepper. Sprinkle with spinach just before serving.

Comments (15)

(5 from 10 votes)

Recipe Rating

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This is my favorite recipe. Hands down! It's beautiful on the plate and tastes amazing.


This soup or Dal needed a lot more flavor.


I found this too dry and almost burned it so added a cup of veggies broth to help steam/ cook the lentils and pumpkin.


Oops - l missed the 5 cups of water;-(


Great outcome, happy bellies, thank you Darshana!


OMG!! I just made this and it is absolutely delicious!! I have never made a dal before and I needed to swap some ingredients (mustard seeds to prepared; ground cumin). Nothing major. The flavors are perfect together. This is a winner as far as I'm concerned. Thank you Chef!


Excellent. I know a couple from Sri Lanka and it passed their taste test! Very easy to make.




I did not use 5 cups of water; more like 3 cups for a thicker dal, and the seasoning was perfect.


I used a Butterkin squash and it was a cup more than the recipe called for but I just adjusted the spices and it worked out ok. Even then it did seem like it wasn't as flavorful as other dal I've had. Oh, I did completely forget the spinach.


You completely changed the recipe. It's no wonder it did not work out. Not sure why you would review a recipe that you did not follow.


Drinking broth straight from the carton is more exciting than this soup.


Amy, try a little kindness with your broth or comments.


If you can't take a recipe and tweak it to taste good, then the failure is with the cook.


@Amy. Why are you so unkind? This is a public forum and everyone has a right to speak his or her mind. But to be unkind and actually rude is so unnecessary. You could have written that this recipe was not to your taste and then written why. Maybe you missed some extra spices or maybe you would have liked it thicker. You could have asked for some advice. And you could add ingredients yourself, as being a bit more adventurous in your kitchen. Try being more kind with your comments in the future. It is not difficult to do.

About the Author

Headshot of Darshana Thacker

About the Author

Darshana Thacker Wendel

Darshana Thacker Wendel is a whole-food, plant-based chef and former culinary projects manager for Forks Over Knives. A graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, she is the author of Forks Over Knives: Flavor! She created the recipes for Forks Over Knives Family and was a lead recipe contributor to the New York Times bestseller The Forks Over Knives Plan. Her recipes have been published in The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook, Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health, and LA Yoga magazine online. Visit and follow her on Instagram for more.
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