Satisfy your fall comfort food cravings with this healthy pumpkin lentil curry. Packed full of nutritious ingredients and warming spices, this is a dish that is sure to please.
Late fall is when we start really craving that rich, comforting food. The nights are cold and long, the days are cool and soups and stews really start sounding like the best choice for lunch or supper. But I am still trying to eat healthier, so I wanted something that avoided creams and cheeses. This pumpkin lentil curry absolutely fits that.
Naturally vegan, this Indian-influenced red lentil curry with pumpkin is incredibly healthy while still being hearty, filling, and so delicious. There’s plenty of protein from the lentils, iron and antioxidants from the spinach, good fats from the coconut milk and almond butter, and plenty of vitamin A, C, and E from pumpkin. And it will keep you feeling full longer to prevent snacking!
Serve your curry with some fluffy rice or flatbread for a great meal. The rich, warm flavors are sure to warm you up on the coldest days. It’s the perfect kind of comfort food!
What are red lentils?
You will often find red lentils used in Indian meals. They are a great source of vegan protein. They also have a lot of folate, iron, and vitamin B6 – something very important for brain function!
Lentils do not need to be soaked before cooking. Unlike other dried beans, they are small and very porous, so water is absorbed quickly. A quick rinse with water before cooking is all lentils need.
Unlike most lentils you will find, red lentils have the outer coating removed. This makes them perfect for a creamy curry with lots of vegetables. They also cook very quickly which means you can have a fragrant meal on the table without hours of stewing.
Health benefits of pumpkin
Pumpkin is a rich fall nutrient source with lots of vitamins and minerals. As well as containing the previously mentioned vitamins A, C, and E, pumpkin has plenty of iron and potassium. Pumpkin also contains high amounts of fiber, something important for gut and heart health.
There are plenty of different kinds of pumpkin you can use in this curry. I recommend one of the firmer, meatier varieties which will hold up well without going to pieces. Red kuri squash, also known as Hokkaido pumpkin, is perfect. You could also try kabocha, though any variety of edible pumpkin will work.
Storing and prepping
Curry and soups are great choices for winter meal prep. They are easy to store and heat in a lot of different situations. Curries like this one with lots of protein and fiber are particularly good for school or work lunches. They will warm you up and fill you up, and all that protein will keep you full for a long time.
Get a bunch of single-serving storage containers so you can easily portion out your curry when you prepare your meals for the week. Glass containers with matching lids are great since you can just put them directly in the microwave. If there’s no access to a microwave or stove at work or school, pick up a couple of thermoses to keep your curry until lunch. It’s a fabulous way to warm up in the cold months.
Pumpkin, Red Lentil & Coconut Curry
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger , peeled and minced
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1 cup (190g) red lentils
- 1 lb. (450g) pumpkin , diced
- 1 14 oz. (400ml) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- salt and pepper , to taste
- 1 14oz (400ml) can full fat coconut milk
- 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- 3.5 oz. (100g) fresh spinach
- sesame seeds , for sprinkling (optional)
- basmati rice or flatbread (naan, roti, paratha) , for serving
- Heat the coconut oil in a large, deep skillet or a large saucepan and add the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, for a minute.
- Add the turmeric, cumin, curry powder, coriander, chili powder, and garam masala and cook, stirring, for a minute more until fragrant.
- Add the lentils, pumpkin, canned tomatoes, and broth. Stir to combine. Give a taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through and mostly softened and the pumpkin is tender.
- Remove the lid, increase the heat, and add the coconut milk (reserve about ¼ cup for garnish if you want to get some white color in the skillet as in my photos), peanut butter, and lemon juice. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes more.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and top with the reserved coconut milk, if desired.
- Serve with cooked basmati rice or Indian flatbread (naan, roti, paratha).