Butternut Squash and Red Lentils, East Indian Style


Here’s a perfect vegan dish that even meat-eaters will enjoy. First, the recipe as made for 10 to 12 people. This is easy to put together, and is great both for entertaining a crowd on a cold fall evening or for making ahead for several meals–it reheats well. In case you want to make a smaller amount and don’t want to do the math, I have included an adjusted ingredients list as well. Just know that you may need to tweak the seasonings a bit more for the smaller batch.

(And if you haven’t worked a lot with winter squashes, scroll down to the post just below this one for a lot of hints and two more butternut squash recipes to try.)

Vegan Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Stew

5 to 6 c cubed butternut squash (one medium, about 2 1/2 lb)–don’t worry about being exact in this measurement–if your squash is a little bigger or a little smaller, that’s okay!
2 c red lentils
1 1/2 c chopped onion (1 large)
1 c celery, sliced
1 1/2 c grated carrot
2 t garam masala
2 t garlic powder OR 4 to 5 garlic cloves, mashed
6 c water
6 vegetarian bouillon cubes (OR 3 of the larger size such as Knorr brand)
salt, cayenne pepper to taste
16 to 24 oz frozen peas
16 to 24 oz frozen cauliflower
2 to 3 t curry powder, to taste

1. To make peeling the squash easier, wash and pierce it in a few places with a fork or knife blade. Place in the microwave 4 to 5 minutes. Remove and cool enough to handle. Peel and cut into cubes about an inch or so in size.
2. Meanwhile, saute the onion, carrot, and celery in a little canola oil, until the onions are starting to brown.
3. Combine all ingredients except the peas, cauliflower, and curry powder in a large slow cooker. Cook on LOW overnight or about 5 to 6 hours, until the squash is soft and flavors are blended.
4. About an hour before serving, stir in the peas and cauliflower and curry powder to taste. Taste and adjust for salt and cayenne as well. You may need to turn the slow cooker to HIGH for the last hour if the frozen vegetables cool the mixture too much.

Serve over rice or with naan, pita, or other flat bread.

This amount will easily serve 8 to 10.

Note–if planning to freeze part of the batch, you may want to wait to add the peas and cauliflower until reheating. This is not absolutely necessary, but it will help retain maximum color retention.

Adjusted amounts for serving 4 to 6:

2 1/2 to 3 c cubed butternut squash (one small , about 1 lb, or half a medium squash)–don’t worry about being exact in this measurement–if your squash is a little bigger or a little smaller, that’s okay!
1 c red lentils
3/4 c chopped onion (1 medium)
1/2 c celery, sliced
3/4c grated carrot
1 t garam masala
1 t garlic powder OR 2 to 3 garlic cloves, mashed
3 c water
3 vegetarian bouillon cubes (OR 1 to 2 of the larger size such as Knorr brand)
salt, cayenne pepper to taste
10 to 12 oz frozen peas
10 to 12 oz frozen cauliflower
1 t curry powder, to taste

We have a cooperative grocery store in town with bulk spices and herbs, so I can buy small amounts of mixes like garam masala very reasonably. However, if you don’t have that option, I found a recipe at http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/easy-garam-masala/detail.aspx to make your own garam masala with things you might already have in your cupboard. I haven’t tried this, however, so can’t attest to how it would work in this recipe.

Garam Masala

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


  1. Mix cumin, coriander, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in a bowl. Place mix in an airtight container, and store in a cool, dry place.

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