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Pumpkin Dahl with Basil and Split Peas

I have a soft spot for star anise and the licorice flavour it imparts - such a distinctive taste. The dahl (yellow split peas) takes on the flavours so well for a delicious Indian accompaniment. The addition of basil to accentuate the aniseed flavour here is a lovely touch and also helps to bring this side dish into a slightly European feel where I would happily serve this with simply grilled fish or chicken as well as part of an Indian banquet with say Anish's Chicken Curry or the Lamb Indienne etc. This recipe was provided by Melanie.

Pictured: Pumpkin Dahl with Basil and Split Peas

200g yellow split peas
Pinch turmeric
3 bay leaves
4 star anise
1 small onion, chopped
500ml water
1kg pumpkin, cut into 4cm cubes
1 tsp sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
250ml water
Spice Butter
6 tbsp basil leaves, cut into ¼ inch wide shreds
5 tbsp ghee or ½ butter and ½ vegetable oil
1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp fresh shredded ginger
2-4 hot green chillies, shredded - optional amount to taste

Put split peas, turmeric, bay leaves, onion, and star anise in deep saucepan with 500ml water and bring to boil. Cook over medium heat partially covered for 20 minutes. Add more water if you feel it becomes too dry, stir regularly to avoid the split peas sticking to the pan.

Add pumpkin pieces, 250ml water, sugar and salt - bring to the boil again. Lower heat and continue cooking, covered for 20 more minutes. Turn off heat, transfer to serving dish.

Spice Butter - heat butter/oil in small pan over high heat. When hot, add cumin seeds. When cumin turns dark brown (15 seconds) add ginger and chillies. Reduce heat to low, sizzle for 30seconds. Add basil and let fry for 30 seconds. Pour all over pumpkin mixture and mix with a fork to streak - like marbling.

Serves 4 - 6

Pictured: Diced Pumpkin

TasteTip - Ghee is also known as clarified butter - you can buy ghee commonly in most supermarkets now or make your own as below. It is the process of separating the milk solids from the clarified butter and is very easy to do.

Clarified Butter/Ghee - Melt ½ C butter in a double boiler over simmering water. Remove from the heat and skim off the foam.  Ladle clear butter into a bowl, taking care not to ladle any of the milk solids at the bottom.