What Bengalis like to call Misti Kumro (translation: sweet pumpkin) is actually a squash. Kabocha squash. If you’ve never tried this variety of squash, its delicious. I love it because you can eat the WHOLE THING. The skin, the flesh and even roast the seeds and eat them for a snack. Talk about a sustainable food. It’s chock full of nutrients like beta carotene, iron, vitamin C and potassium. Long before this squash was available in the U.S. they were grown in parts of South Asia. Because it is such a sweet squash you can add more chili in the cooking process and get a wonderful sweet/hot dish. I enjoy making this daal because when you add the lentils the nutrient content skyrockets even more and you can eat it as a soup or with rice (I’m Asian, I eat most things with rice).
Misti Kumro Daal
4 cups cubed Kabocha squash – leave the skin on
1 cup red lentils, washed thoroughly
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 tsp salt (or adjust to taste)
1 1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp Panch Phoron (Bengali Five Spice)
2 bay leaves
1 can lite coconut milk
2 cups water
3 tbsp oil
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
In a large heavy bottom pan saute the onion in oil along with Panch Phoron and salt. After seeds begin to pop, add in bay leaves, chili powder, turmeric and cumin. Saute for about two minutes so the flavors can marry. Add the squash and the lentils and stir to coat thoroughly. Add the water. Cover and simmer for about 6-8 minutes or until the lentils and the squash are tender. Add in coconut milk and cook another 2-3 minutes uncovered. Add chopped cilantro right before taking off the heat. Serve with rice or eat as a soup.