On cold wintry days, this is a recipe to warm and nourish the body and soul. Lentils are a fibre-rich staple for winter larders, full of the vital mineral magnesium which promotes good sleep and helps keep us calm. Combined with the anti-inflammatory properties of fresh turmeric and gentle spices a bowlful of this ancient, Ayurvedic dish will offer the body much to thank you for.

Make a big batch and enjoy for lunch the next day or alternatively this is a recipe that freezes brilliantly.

(Serves 2-3)

250g peeled butternut squash or pumpkin, cut into 2cm cubes
3 tsp olive or coconut oil, or melted ghee
1 onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
1⁄2 tsp fresh turmeric (or 1 tsp ground turmeric), peeled and finely grated
1 medium red chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
1⁄2 tsp mustard seeds
1⁄2 tsp ground coriander
4 cardamom pods, crushed
700ml vegetable or chicken broth
185g red split lentils
sea salt and black pepper

Tarka: (optional)

50ml olive oil, coconut oil or ghee
3 large garlic cloves, finely sliced
1⁄2 a chilli, finely chopped
1⁄2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds

To serve

Cooked brown rice
Wilted greens

Place a saucepan over a medium heat and warm the remaining oil or ghee. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, all the spices except the cardamom and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 4–5 minutes until the onions are soft and the spices release their aroma. If the pan looks as though it is getting dry, add a splash of water.

Crush the cardamom pods with the back of a spoon and add them to the pan with the broth. Pour in the lentils and stir. Allow to simmer over a medium heat for 15–20 minutes until the dhal begins to thicken. The lentils will be cooked when they begin to lose their shape and break down into a creamy, thick texture.

When the lentils are almost cooked, add the squash and stir through, then continue to cook for 5–6 minutes and check the seasoning.
Meanwhile, if you’re making the tarka put all of the ingredients into a pan over a medium heat and simmer gently until the garlic is beginning to turn golden brown and crispy.
When the dhal is deliciously thick, ladle it into deep bowls and top with the tarka. Serve with warm brown rice and wilted greens.

Make a big batch and enjoy for lunch the next day or alternatively this is a recipe that freezes brilliantly.

Daylesford 26 Sep-9434-Edit copy