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Butternut Dal Curry

January 15, 2010

Here she goes again, another Indian curry post. Woah, before you mark this as read hear me out! Curried dal is probably the most adaptable, nutritious, inexpensive meals in my repertoire.

Lentils are one of the highest legumeous (I made that up) sources of protein. They’re PACKED with fiber and folate,are high in iron, thiamin, phosphorus and manganese. They cook quickly and are extremely inexpensive. $.99/lb? The price is right!


Spices Repeat after me: Supermarket spices are a rip off, bulk spices are the way to go. Supermarket spices=rip off, Bulk=good. Got that?


These are all spice containers I continually refill every time I need to replenish them, that way I’m not even harming the environment in the process. Let’s talk price: most of my spices are around $15/ lb and I usually get 1/2 an ounce of everything. Why? When I’m in a rush, I don’t want to pull out the coffee grinder to grind 7 different spices. I want to pinch and go!

By buying small amounts, I’m sure I’ll use it quickly so it won’t lose pungency sitting in the cabinet. The health food store has a much faster spice turnover than my own kitchen!

Let’s talk nutrition! Spices, especially ginger and turmeric are touted as magic anti-inflammatory bullets. Both are two of the main ingredients in curry powder. In fact, most spices are high in antioxidants and have been thought as cure-alls from the beginning of time. So don’t be reluctant…spice it up!!!

Here was my curry spice blend de jour:

  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Anise
  • Caraway
  • Allspice
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Black pepper
  • Fenugreek (in the grinder to the right)
  • 3 bay leaves


The vegetables are cheap and nutritious too! 5 servings of this curry used one 2lb butternut squash and one large onion. The onion was  a little less than $.50, and the squash was $2 ($.99/pound)

Onions are high in vitamins (Vitamin C, Vitamin B6) and fiber. Squash is an awesome source of Vitamin A (almost 300% DV is in each serving!!!), Vitamin C, fiber, potassium, manganese, Vitamin E, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium and Magnesium. Superfood?!


The entire curry takes about 50 minutes from start to finish, with the majority of the time being unattended. I let mine simmer another 10 minutes because I had the time, but if you don’t it can be on the table even faster.

IMG_0100 IMG_0102

  • 1 cup lentils, dry
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt, pepper
  • —-
  • 1 onion, large, diced
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp of your own curry spice blend
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 (2 lb) butternut squash, roasted
  • Cilantro

In a rice cooker combine 1 c. rinsed lentils, 3 cups water, 1 tsp salt, a few cracks of black pepper and 1 tsp cumin. Turn on and set a timer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet and add the onion, salt, bay leaves and curry blend. Sautee over medium high heat until the onion is soft and less pungent to taste. (You won’t be able to tell by color- turmeric dyes everything yellow.) Add garlic and continue cooking for another two minutes, then add the chicken stock, tomato paste and diced cooked butternut squash.

Lid the pan and cook over medium-low heat until the lentils are done. When finished, turn the rice cooker to “warm” for a few minutes and then add to the squash mixture. Stir everything together and cook, lid on, for another 10-30 minutes. (10 minutes to finish cooking, but as long as 30 more minutes if you like the lentils more tender)

Serve with cilantro and additional sriacha sauce, over a bed of spinach if desired.

Makes 5 lunch portions or 4 dinner portions.


Curry is even better the next day, so toss this in the refrigerator and you have a delicious heat-and-eat, nutritious, and inexpensive lunch all week long. OR put some servings in Tupperware and freeze. Defrost any night you’re in a pinch for dinner!


The price? The amount of spices used come to about $1.50 when all is said and done. The squash was $2, the lentils: less than $.50, the onion: $.50, the chicken stock $2.50 and tomato paste $.50.

Total price: $7.50. Price per lunch portion: $1.50. Price per dinner portion: $1.88. The fun you had making it? Well, that’s priceless. 😉

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2010 4:38 am

    Yum!! All your eats you create look delish!! I need to start cooking more!!!!! I see all this yum stuff on here!!

    The paper plates, well we used them for front and backward lunges in body blast class, you stand on them and slide, its very hard!! Im still sore today!!!

    Have a great day!! xo

  2. January 15, 2010 5:58 am

    Can you come cook for me? 🙂
    It would be nice to lose the bother of wondering what the heck to eat 🙂
    I end up eating whatever…not nearly as creative or good as you Mae!
    Beans and lentils are yum with tortillas.

  3. Tracy & Dustin permalink
    January 24, 2010 3:07 am

    Totally agree that bulk spices are the way to go. We’ve saved so much money from buying that way! This recipe looks amazing, and we actually have everything to make it! I think this will be happening in the near future. Also, love love love siracha sauce!

  4. March 26, 2010 5:24 pm


    I have been reading your blog for quite a while and I am simply in awe of what you cook and eat, especially considering you are still living at home! Most people I know start experimenting with food seriously when they first move out and head to university, and often these experiments are less than successful and usually involve a scary amount of take-out and frozen pizza. It is usually only after realizing that this might not be the best way to treat our bodies that some (yes, some!) revisit their diet and make some important changes and yet most will still not end up feeding themselves as well and as creatively as you are already doing!! Really, well done!

    Oh and the banana soft serve is divine! Cannot believe I used to hate the taste of bananas growing up! Now I love them!! Perfect fuel for long runs and divine as ice cream!


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