Coconut and Pumpkin Dal

Recipe: Coconut & Pumpkin Dal

3 minutes to read
Anya Bell

Anya Bell

BAHons, Prekure - Health Coach, Nutritional Science

Difficulty: Easy

Ready In: 50 Minutes

Serves: 5


  • 300g yellow split peas (chana dal) soaked, drained and rinsed
  • Ghee or olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 x 4cm piece of peeled ginger, grated
  • 1 large brown onion, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbsp cardamom seeds
  • 1 Tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 Tbsp fresh grated turmeric or 1 Tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 large wedge of butternut pumpkin, diced and seeds removed 
  • 1 large wedge of buttercup squash, diced and seeds removed
  • 1 can coconut cream
  • Chicken broth, vegetable stock or water

Optional:  chilli, fresh or dried flakes

Ingredients for coconut and pumpkin dal


1. Pop the whole spices

Add a generous amount of ghee/olive oil to a large, heated, pot and drop in the whole spices. Toast these until they start popping, then add the finely diced onion and carrot.

2. Caramelise the onion and carrot

Turn the heat down a little and allow the onion, carrot and whole spices to caramelise – these will give your dish a great depth of flavour. After 2-3 minutes, add the garlic, ginger and turmeric. Add the ground spices, salt and pepper and turn the heat up.

3. Add diced pumpkin

Add the diced pumpkin and toss to coat with the spices. Then add the drained yellow split peas and toss to coat and to toast.

coat the pumpkins with spices
Step 3 - add pumpkin and dal
4. Add liquid

Add chicken broth, vegetable broth or water and coconut cream to just above the top of the dal/pumpkin mix.

5. Cook

Turn the heat down again and allow the dal to simmer until the mix turns thick and mushy and the pumpkin pieces have softened. Check regularly, stirring and adding more coconut cream if the mix gets too thick or starts to stick.

Simmer the coconut and pumpkin dal
6. Ready to Serve

Serve your dal thick, or add extra coconut cream if you prefer a more soupy mix.

Serve with steamed rice or bulgur wheat, and/or toasted naan or roti. Serve with finely sliced leafy greens, diced tomato and raita (optional). These freshen up the meal and a selection of toppings makes a meal more enticing.

Recipe Notes

  • Pumpkin seeds: Save your pumpkin seeds for roasting, or planting! 
  • Vegetarian optionFor vegetarian diets, use vegetable broth or water. For vegan diets use oil instead of ghee and use vegetable broth or water. 
  • Other ways to Serve:
    • Serve with chilli oil 
    • Sprinkle with toasted shredded coconut
    • Peas are also a great accompaniment to this meal
  • Other ways to prepare the dal:
    • Roast pumpkin first – Once the pumpkin is diced, place in a baking dish and drizzle with a little oil or ghee, and add seasoning. Roast until softened and caramelised. Add to the dal once the split peas/dal have softened. Roasting the pumpkin fist gives it a little more bite and also adds another layer of flavour. 
    • Once the spices, onion and carrot have caramelised, all the ingredients including the coconut milk can be transferred to a slow cooker and cooked on low for up to 3 hours. 
      • This is a great meal for infants transitioning to a wider variety of foods. Start by adding a little of the dal to their mashed pumpkin or kumara and slowly increase the volume until they are sharing the same meal as the rest of the family. 
    • Involve your children with measuring out the spices and they can watch the popping as they toast (from a safe distance!). 
  • Family Style service: Make all the components of the meal available to everyone to serve themselves in any order or quantity they prefer (being mindful of sharing what is available with the people who also need to eat). Serving meals family style is a proven method for children to learn to eat a wider diet through positive mealtime experiences and autonomy.

Did you know that cumin seeds are linked to potential health benefits and that cinnamon has been linked to decreasing cancer cell viability.

To learn more about the different benefits of herbs and spices, we suggest starting with our first article in this series Anti-cancer foods: The Healthiest Herbs and Spices (Part 1).

A bit more about the master chef behind this recipe…

Anya has been feeding hungry learners for many years and her focus is on developing healthy, informed, responsible and positive relationships between children and their food and eating.  

Anya has studied Nutrition, with a focus on children and adolescents, and through her work as a cook and nutrition advisor in the early learning space, she has been able to practice and teach positive eating relationships (University of Idaho and Ellyn Satter Institute) through a lens of Reggio Emilia and Te Whariki

With a family of five, Anya focuses on humble, nourishing and sustainable family meals that are satisfying, tasty and don’t break the budget. Just as our great-grandparents once did.

Anya is currently developing menus and food education for Libelle Group. When she is not in the kitchen, browsing food ideas or reading cookbooks, Anya loves wandering in nature with her dog, Charlie.

You can find Anya at Anya Bell.

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