Recipe: Cashew & Squash Daal

This daal is easy to make, nutritious and delicious. It is made with pigeon peas, roasted onions and seasonal squashes like butternut or crookneck yellow, and is flavored with cloves and cashews. Serve it for a dinner party, a weeknight dinner or as part of a working afternoon lunch for a creamy addition to your plate.

Makes: Eight ½-cup servings; approx. 160 cal. ea. Diet: Vegan adaptable, Vegetarian, Gluten-free Prep Time: 25 minutes Cook Time, Ease: <20 minutes, Moderately Easy


2 tbsp ghee or butter 2 tsp cumin seeds 2-4 tbsp cashew halves 1 large onion, slivered 3 large garlic cloves 3 cloves 2 dried red chilies, broken into bits ¼ tsp turmeric powder ½ cup butternut squash, cut into small cubes OR 2 yellow crookneck squashes, thinly sliced 4-5 cups water (or as needed for precooking and cooking) 2 cups raw toor daal (split yellow pigeon peas) 1 tsp lemon juice Salt, to taste 5-10 stems of cilantro, trimmed for garnish


Precook the toor daal in a pressure cooker with 4 cups of water for 20 minutes or boil on the stove top in a heavy-bottom pan until soft. Whisk the daal until smooth and thin it out with ½ cup or more of water until its consistency is similar to heavy cream. Set aside.


In a heavy-bottom saucepan, warm the ghee (or butter) until it is melted and add cumin seeds. As the seeds begin to sizzle, add the cashew halves and lightly sauté them until they are golden. Remove the cashews from the ghee and save them for topping the daal. Add the slivered onions to the remaining ghee and sauté them until they are lightly golden brown. Add the garlic cloves, cloves and broken pieces of red chilies, and sauté for ½ minute. Take care at this point, as the cloves are likely to pop and sputter out of the pan. Add the turmeric powder and squash of your choice and stir until the squash is coated with the spices. Cook the squash on medium-low for 2-4 minutes until the edges are browned.

Slowly pour the cooked and whisked daal into this compote and stir in to ensure that the daal does not stick to the bottom of the saucepan. Add water as needed to make a smooth consistency and to allow the daal to boil, the squash to cook and the flavors to combine. Since all the ingredients are mostly precooked at this point, the boil is only intended to help the squash cook through. Stir every 1-2 minutes to prevent the daal from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Finish the daal with lemon juice and salt, and sprinkle with cilantro leaves and reserved cashew for a final garnish.

Enjoy hot.


Nandita Godbole

Once a botanist & landscape architect.

Now a personal chef & author, an artist, graphic designer, blogger & poet. 


Loves freshly brewed chai, the crisp salty ocean breeze, watching monsoon rains & walking barefoot through cold mountain streams. 


Believes in the strength, positivity of the human spirit. Is spiritual but not a fanatic. 


Mom of one. Two, if she counts her husband.

Nandita is a proud member of the Asian American Journalists Association & Association of Food Journalists.

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