Pumpkin dal is a hearty, healthy and delicious Indian side dish made with lentils, pumpkin, spices and herbs. Make this easy pumpkin lentil dish on the stovetop or in the instant pot with my easy recipe. It is one of those dishes which don’t require much effort. All you do is just dump the ingredients in a pot and let them simmer until all the delicious flavors blend. Pumpkin dal can be served with plain steamed rice, quinoa, couscous, roti, paratha, Butter naan or any flat bread of your choice.
Down in the South, especially in Andhra cuisine we cook a lot of lentils with different kinds of veggies. These dishes are not only simple to make, taste delicious & are healthy as all the good things – lentils, lots of veggies and a moderate amount of spices and fats go into these.
Dal cooked with some veggies is a comfort food and we use many kinds of veggies like tomatoes, ridge gourd (lufa), bottle gourd, snake gourd, drumsticks, eggplants, bhindi (okra), mango and many more. Even leafy greens are included in these dishes.
About Pumpkin Dal
So this dal pumpkin is one of the many lentil dishes I make for a quick and comforting meal. I first published this post in 2013 and shared a basic version. Now my boys are growing up and prefer more spices in their food. So I have updated this post with a new spicy version.
In India we use pumpkin to make many dishes like sambar, kootu, pulusu and curry. Simple Dal pumpkin like this, is not a common dish cooked in the Indian households but why not because it tastes delicious!
For this recipe you can also use raw mango or dried mango pieces (endu mamidi mukalu). If using raw mango add them along with the pumpkin pieces and skip tomatoes.
To use dried mango pieces, place them in a small bowl and pour water until they immerse. Keep this small bowl over the lentil bowl in the pressure cooker. Sometimes lentils won’t cook well if the dried mango pieces are added to the lentils.
How to make Pumpkin Dal (stepwise photos)
I have made this in the instant pot, an electric pressure cooker. But you can also make the dish in a stovetop cooker or just in a regular sauce pot. I have the instructions below.
Add dal to a bowl and rinse it atleast thrice. Drain the water and keep it aside. If you want to cook in a pot, soak the lentils for 30 to 45 mins to cut down the cook time
1.Pour ghee or oil to the pot and heat it on a low to medium heat. For the instant pot, use saute mode. Then add half teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon chopped ginger (or garlic), 1 chopped green chilli and curry leaves.
2. When the curry leaves turn crisp, add ½ to ¾ teaspoon red chilli powder, ⅛ teaspoon turmeric, 2 cups chopped pumpkin and ¾ to 1 cup tomatoes.
3. Stir quickly and saute for 1 to 3 mins. Also season with ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt.
4. Immediately add the rinsed and drained lentils.
5. Pour 2¼ cups water. Deglaze the pot.
6. Secure the Cooker with the lid and position the steam vent to sealing. Press the pressure cook button and Set the timer to 11 mins. If using a stove top pressure cooker, cover the lid and place the weight. Cook for 3 whistles on a medium heat. If cooking in a regular pot, Bring the water to a boil and then simmer until the lentils become tender or soft. If required add more hot water as they cook.
7. When the pressure drops, open the lid. Dal must be soft cooked. Pumpkins will become mushy and that’s how this is made. If you prefer smooth dal, mash everything well. I did not add any extra water at this stage. If the dal is too thick you may add some hot boiling water to bring to consistency.
8. Add 1 teaspoon jaggery, ¼ to ½ teaspoon garam masala and 1½ teaspoon kasuri methi. Crush the kasuri methi in your palm before adding. Let the dal simmer for a minute. Taste test and add more salt if required.
If you want you can also add 1 cup fine chopped baby spinach and let it wilt in the hot dal.
9. Let the dal pumpkin cool down a bit, add 2 tbsps lemon juice or as required and 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves.
Serve pumpkin dal with plain rice, roti, quinoa or naan. Top the hot dal with more ghee.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- ¾ cup dal (lentils, refer notes)
- 1½ to 2 cups pumpkin (peeled & chopped)
- ¾ to 1 cup tomatoes (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon ghee or oil or butter
- 1 sprig curry leaves (or bay leaf, optional)
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ginger (or garlic, or both, chopped)
- 1 green chilli (chopped, optional)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon garam masala (adjust to taste)
- 1½ teaspoon kasuri methi (optional or 1 cup baby spinach fine chopped)
- 1 teaspoon jaggery (optional)
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves (fine chopped)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice (for serving)
- Add dal to a bowl and rinse it well at least thrice. Drain the water. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you may soak them for 30 to 45 mins so they cook faster in a pot.
- Pour ghee or oil to a pot or pressure cooker and heat it. Add cumin, ginger, garlic, green chilli and curry leaves.
- Saute until ginger garlic begins to smell good. Turn down the flame to low. Then add red chilli powder, turmeric, pumpkin and tomatoes.
- Saute for 1 to 2 mins and add dal. Pour water and deglaze the pot.
- Stovetop Pressure cooker – Cover the pressure cooker. Pressure cook on a medium heat until you hear 3 whistles. When the pressure drops, open the lid.
- Instant pot – Secure the Instant pot with the lid and position the steam release valve to sealing. Set the timer to 11 mins. When the pressure drops, open the lid.
- Regular sauce pot – Bring the water to a boil and simmer. Let the lentils cook slowly until done and tender. If required add more hot water as you cook them.
- When the lentils are tender and fully done, add garam masala, kasuri methi and jaggery. Mix well, taste test and adjust salt. (if using spinach, cook further until the spinach is tender)
- Turn off the heat and let cool down slightly. Then add coriander leaves and lemon juice.
- Serve dal pumpkin with rice, roti, quinoa or naan.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Old Recipe of Pumpkin dal
1 cup pumpkin chopped
½ cup dal
2 green chilies
4 pepper corn
1/4 cup chopped mango pieces (optional or 1 tsp amchur powder, adjust to taste)
Salt to taste
1 pinch hing
Ghee or oil as needed
1 sprig curry leaves
1 Pinch mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin
1 red chili, broken
¼ tsp turmeric
Pressure cook dal, pumpkin, green chilies, pepper corn, salt and mango (optional) with 1 ½ cups of water for 2 to 3 whistles.
When the pressure drops, open the lid and mash the lentils.
Heat a pan with ghee for tempering. Add cumin, mustard and red chili. Once they begin to splutter, add curry leaves and hing. Pour this to the dal.
Add amchur powder, let the dal begin to bubble up. Off the heat.
Serve dal pumpkin with rice or chapathi. You can refrigerate and use up within 48 hours.
Dal pumpkin Recipe first published in Feb 2013. Updated and republished in Jan 2022.