Ethiopian-Spiced Dal with Butternut Squash

What do you do when you love Ethiopian and Indian cuisine, but can’t decide which one to make for dinner? You combine the flavors into this delicious fusion dal, of course! 

Dal is very generous, so you can decide on your own legumes to use for this recipe. But if you choose my recommendations below, you’ll get to experience a little but of heaven with every bite! Adding four different types of legumes means you will have a variety of textures, which really helps to round out the dish! The mung beans totally shined here too, so use them if you can.

Similarly, if you don’t have access to any of the ingredients below and don’t feel like ordering them online, that’s fine too. Your dal doesn’t have to be Ethiopian-flavored or even have to have fresh Indian curry leaves! But for the curious, why not buy a little Ethopian-spiced butter (niter kibbeh) and berbere (chili powder) online if you don’t have them on hand. Your palate will thank you!

Ethiopian-Spiced Dal with Butternut Squash

Time: 1 Hour
Serves 4

3/4 cup yellow split peas
1/4 cup whole red lentils (masoor dal)
1/4 cup mung beans (green gram)
1/4 cup whole black lentils (urad dal)
6 cups water
1 tsp turmeric
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1.5 cups butternut squash, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tbsp Niter Kibbeh, ghee, or vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-3 serrano peppers, chopped
10 fresh Indian curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 dried birdseye chilies, roughly chopped (optional)
1 tsp berbere or red chili powder
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped

Throughly sort legumes and wash in a colander under cold running water. Drain. 

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, bring water to a boil. Add legumes, turmeric, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and reduce to a gentle simmer for about 30 minutes. Sir in butternut squash and cook on medium-low for 25-30 minutes, until legumes and squash are tender.

Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, heat niter kibbeh or oil in a over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, serranos, curry leaves, and cumin seeds. Cook until onions are soft and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in berbere or chili powder and remove from heat. 

Add onion mixture to legumes and stir to combine over medium heat until incorporated. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve immediately in bowls garnished with cilantro.