As most of you know, #30DaysOfPumpkin starts in just a couple of days, I have been a tad busy prepping for pumpkin madness. To help me out, my friend Vijay from Noshon.it offered to share his knowledge of Indian cooking and a new curry recipe on my blog!
Indian cooking is sort of new to me, I am having a blast experimenting with all the spices and delicious comforting dishes this fall. I just know I will fall in love this Slow Cooker Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Curry.... and I think my meatless hubby will love it too!
Hi Bakeaholic Mama readers! I’m Vijay from NoshOn.It, where we feature the best food bloggers (like Carrie) and their recipes. Thanks so much to Carrie for inviting me to guest post today and share a bit of an experiment with you.
A few weeks ago, I saw that Carrie was venturing into the world of Indian cooking by making my Channa Masala (Indian Chickpea Curry) for her family after re-stocking her pantry with a ton of new spices. Most people think that cooking authentic Indian food at home is out of their reach and, while it’s true that the ingredient list can be long, I’m here to prove to you that it’s not that hard at all. Enter our trusty friend, the slow cooker.
Can you believe that I’ve had a slow cooker for exactly 3 weeks? Even though I’ve been cooking for years and probably used just about every gadget that’s out there, somehow I never had a crockpot. I didn’t grow up with one and never thought I had a need for it since then. Boy, was I wrong. This thing is like magic. It just does it’s thing while you actually are productive throughout the day. Where has this been all my life?? And when it comes to Indian food, the slow cooker helps you get that deep, rich, layered flavor, with very little work.
Even though I know most of you probably aren’t ready for the cold weather that’s about to pour down on top of us, we might as well get ready for the winter with plenty of slow-cooked, filling, warming recipes, like this curry that I’m sharing with you.
Indian food is all about layering different ingredients, flavors, and spices together in a certain way to create a complex and rich dish. But it’s actually very simple. For this one, you just saute together onions, garlic, and ginger with a homemade spice blend and some tomatoes, then dump it in the slow cooker with butternut squash and red lentils. Let it go all day and you’ll come home to a creamy, spiced, and lightly sweet curry that’s almost like a veggie chili.
My one secret spice in this is garam masala powder, which you can find at any Indian grocery store, and many places online. It’s a combination of cumin, coriander, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and bay leaves. It’s spiced, but not spicy. A little fun fact (for your next Indian food trivia game): traditionally, you use whole garam masala (as in, whole cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, etc.) at the beginning of cooking a dish, and ground garam masala as a finishing spice at the end. To keep things simple in this recipe, we’re going to use the ground version twice, at the beginning for some backbone, and at the end for an extra kick of flavor.
The butternut squash practically falls apart and melts into the lentils, giving the entire dish a creamy sweetness. Serve it on top of white rice or with store-bought naan on the side. Or, just eat it like a stew with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and a big squeeze of lime.
I hope you’ll give this recipe a shot and try out cooking Indian food at home yourself! If you like it or have any questions, let me know in the comments down below. Thanks again to Carrie for having me and happy noshing!
Slow Cooker Indian Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Curry
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 teaspoons garam masala powder, divided
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 bay leaves
3 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
1 large onion, diced finely
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
6 cups water
2 cups red lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and seeds removed then cubed into 1" pieces
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
In a small bowl, mix together the ground cumin, 2 teaspoons garam masala powder, turmeric powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and bay leaves. Set aside.
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add 2 teaspoons of the vegetable oil. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and saute until deep golden brown, 5-6 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the remaining teaspoon of vegetable oil and add the tomato paste. Saute for another 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the tomato paste is caramelized and browned.
Add the reserved spice mixture and saute for 30 seconds to toast the spices and release their flavor. The pan will be very dry at this point so stir frequently. Add the entire can of diced tomato with juices and stir to combine.
To a slow cooker, add the tomato mixture. Add 1 cup of water to the pan to get anything that's left behind and pour it into the slow cooker. Add 5 cups of water, the lentils, the butternut squash, and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Stir to combine and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 8-10 hours.
When it's ready, add 1 teaspoon of garam masala powder, taste and add salt as necessary. Add a big squeeze of lime juice and chopped cilantro just before serving. Serve over white rice or with your favorite flatbread along with a dollop of yogurt.