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Closeup of butternut squash daal with cashews in a white bowl

Vegan Cashew and Butternut Squash Daal

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This easy squash daal (or dal) is made with body-warming chiles and health-boosting turmeric.
Course dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Indian
Dish Type Daal
Cooking Style vegan, vegtarian
Diet and Health Healthy
Seasonal autumn, winter
Ingredient butternut squash, turmeric
Servings 8
Author Nandita Godbole


  • 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
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 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.