Friday, October 11, 2013

Indian lentil and acorn squash curry (or soup)

If you have never heard of a What's App group chat then you also probably don't know how addictive it can get. The other day I decided to create one for my running group: the core group consists in myself, another girl and a guy, but we have had quite a few new entries lately so organizing our outings has become more engaging than before. We have been spending so much time texting and messaging on What's App individually to figure out who is coming and where to meet up that I thought it would be practical to create a What's App group chat. One of us writes, who wants to run answers and who doesn't abstains. Simple. Or so I thought.
Let's just say the group chat took on a life of its own.
Yesterday, the only guy of the group came out of an evening class to find 26 messages on his phone.

Quickly he checked his What's App account, wondering what had happened since he had confirmed his presence.

When he opened the messages to read them he was submerged by comments along the lines of*:

"It's supposed to be really cold tomorrow morning; I really need to get some new pants. The other day I stopped for a coffee after running and the guy who always serves me asked me why I was in my pjs"
"I am wearing running tights and a zip top; d'you think I should wear a tshirt under that or just a bra?"
"I'm not coming. I need some sleep. I know, I know, I am a lazy bum. I suck"
"You don't suck, you ran a marathon girl!"
"Yeah but you are incredibly consistent, unlike me"
"I know, isn't she? She never misses a day!"

"Yeah, but who's the one who managed to lose 10lbs???"

The poor guy didn't know what he was getting himself into when he accepted the invitation to our group chat, but he truly is a good sport and plays along. He is our guardian angel, always running back and forth to check on us in the pre-dawn darkness. 
Yup, it is dark now when we run. Fall is in the nippy air, dry leaves and those chestnut burrs I already mentioned recently crunch under our sneakers as we jog.
Autumn has come, with its lovely array of seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Pumpkin is definitely a favorite of mine and I like it prepared in pretty much any manner. My daughter, however, has recently developed a dislike for it because she finds the sweetness overpowering, so I have been looking for ways to use it without its flavor being too overbearing because pumpkins and squash are so filled with antioxidants and vitamins.
This vegetarian (or actually vegan) curry is ideal: it is packed with flavor yet delicate, the pumpkin adding creamy texture, the perfect vehicle to absorb all the spices and heat. My daughter didn't even notice the pumpkin until, during her second helping,
 I admitted it was actually one of the main ingredients. She made a disgusted faced, then shrugged and went on eating.
The curry paste I used as a base is a loose adaptation of a Jamie Oliver korma paste recipe.
If, on the other hand, you like pumpkin as much as I do and want its flavor to really shine through, here are some links to other favorite recipes.



*This in not an exact transcript, forgive the poetic licence. I tried to catch the essence of endless texts into a few sentences. A few, however, are pretty accurate.

Ingredients (serves 6-8)
Curry paste
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
2 cloves garlic
1 thumb-sized chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
1 small dried chili (I kept the heat down for the kids)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp tomato puree
3 tbsp dessicated coconut
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil
For the curry
500gr dried brown (or red) lentils
450gr/2 cups roasted acorn squash (you can use uncooked squash of course) 
750ml/26 fl. oz. vegetable stock
1 can/13.5 fl. oz/400ml coconut milk for cooking
3 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
handful curry leaves, crushed
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
Roasted pumpkin seeds
Soak lentils, as per instructions.
Toast cumin and coriander seeds to release aroma. In a blender, process all the ingredients for the curry paste. Transfer to a heavy bottomed pot and cook for a few minutes before adding the lentils and vegetable stock (and the squash if you are using it uncooked). Cover and bring to a simmer.

When lentils are tender, add the roasted squash and let cook a while longer. Blend the soup with a hand held blender (or transfer to blender), making sure you keep enough lentils whole for texture. Pour in the coconut milk and cook a few minutes longer. Remove from heat.
In a small pan, heat the olive oil, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves and fry for a few minutes, until the seeds start popping. Finally add the thinly sliced shallots and fry until they are golden brown. They will turn crunchy as they cool. 
Serve the curry in a bowl with the chaunk drizzled on top. Accompany with basmati rice or naan or eat on its own, like a soup.


  1. Hehe I can imagine the surprise when he opened up all of those messages. But being the only guy in a group of girls isn't a bad position to be in, it's like having lots of sisters I'd imagine! :D

  2. Your soup bowl is very pretty and there's great range of pumpkin dishes there. I particularly like the look of the pasta. I admire you for going jogging. I used to run and tried taking it up again this year and it was a disaster. Your chat group sounds like heaps of fun xx

    1. I remember your posts on running a few months ago, you cracked me up! ;o)

  3. I suck at running! And I hate it. But I really admire those who do run. Even more if they run in the morning!

    1. Morning runs are a necessity more than a choice, because the kids are asleep and Daddy is at home!

  4. Run? I can barely make it around the block these days.... ;=) Maybe I need to fortify myself with some curry.

    1. You start with a block and then reach miles! If I can do it, you can, believe me...


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