Squash and Lentil Curry Recipe

Squash and Lentil Curry | Maple and Marigold

For as long as I can remember, Kaddu ki Sabzi {traditional Indian squash curry} has been a staple in our home. This recipe is my version of squash and lentil curry. It is big on flavour, uses pantry staple lentils and makes a delicious and wholesome one-pot meal.

Traditionally, Kaddu ki Sabzi is a sweet, sour and totally addictive dry Indian curry made with yellow squash, mustard seeds, onions, sour mango powder (amchoor) and a few other spices. This sabzi {curry} makes a humble meal in villages and cities around northern India. You’ll often find it served it with poori (deep-fried and puffed flatbread) or with plain roti or chappatti and lentils. My version is a one-pot dish made with sweet, yellow squash and green lentils.

Why Pumpkin?

Pumpkin is a nutritious vegetable and quite widely available in India. So years ago when my husband and I moved to Canada, I was glad to see the wide variety of squash available here too. It’s a fall vegetable but because of its hardiness and long shelf-life, you can find local squash all year long.

Squash and Lentil Curry | Maple and Marigold

Traditional Curry with a Twist

Years ago when we moved to Canada and the kids came along I started looking for shortcuts to recreate traditional Indian dishes in my Canadian kitchen. The meal had to meet two conditions though – big on flavour and spice and take less time in the kitchen. That’s how this Squash and Lentil curry came to be. An easier one-pot, all-season, nutritious and absolutely FABULOUS dish.

What Kind of Pumpkin should I use in a Curry?

In India, my mom makes it with the deep yellow, almost orange Disco pumpkin. It is smaller in size than what you often find here. When we first moved to Canada I made this squash curry with butternut squash. What a failure that was! After that, I went back to making this dish with imported squash available in the Indian stores. Even though the squash was the same, the flavour never was. After much trial and error today I make this curry dish with local Acorn or Kombucha squash. Non-traditional, yes but it works and how, because both these varieties have the sweetness and colour that makes this dish look and taste like India.

Real-Life Kitchen Tips

  • The flavour is a combination of sour and sweet. If you don’t have amchoor {dried green mango powder} replace with the juice of 1/2 a lime.
  • If the pumpkin is sweet, as most in-season produce is, skip adding any more sweetness.
  • Acorn Squash cooks faster than Kombucha so watch the dish the last 10 minutes or so.

Hack for Cooking the Squash

Wash the squash really well and then cut it open with a sharp knife. Microwave it following the steps below. Raw pumpkin is hard (virtually impossible) to peel and chop. Cooking it in the microwave softens the vegetable a little and makes it easier to work with. Leave the skin of in-season acorn squash on — it’s delicious.

Squash and Lentil Curry | Maple and Marigold

Squash & Lentil Curry

Print Recipe
Course DInner, Side Dish
Cuisine All
Keyword Lentil Curry, Simple Indian Curry
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 6
Author Puneeta


For Lentils

  • 1 cup Green Lentils rinsed 3-4 times
  • 1 tsp Black Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp Curry Leaves Optional
  • 2 tbsp Ginger chopped
  • 1 tbsp Canola Oil

To Microwave Squash

  • 2 tsp Canola Oil
  • 1 Whole Acorn Squash or Kombucha Squash
  • 1 tsp Turmeric

For the Squash and Lentil Curry

  • 1 tsp Canola
  • 2 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 cup Sliced red onions White will do too
  • 2 small dried red chillies optional
  • 1 lime for juice replace with 1/2 tsp amchoor if available.
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds Optional
  • 1/2 tsp Red Chilli Powder Optional
  • 1/3 tsp Fenugreek seeds Optional


  • Add the oil to a heavy-bottomed pot. Let it heat through.
  • Add mustard seeds and ginger along with curry leaves. Add other whole spices at this time if available – cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds.
  • Add the lentils in along with a cup of water.
  • Let it boil once, put the lid on and turn it to a low simmer. Check on it occasionally while you microwave the squash
    Squash and Lentil Curry | Maple and Marigold

Microwaving the Squash

  • Slice the squash into big halves. This is the hardest part so use a SHARP knife but don't slice off a finger
    Squash and Lentil Curry | Maple and Marigold
  • Scoop out the fibrous seeds
  • Squirt a tsp of oil in each half, put it in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 6 mins.
  • Let it cook for a couple of minutes then peel with a sharp knife and chop into bitesized pieces.

Cooking the Curry

  • Add onions to the lentil mess. Add another 1/2 cup of water.
  • The lentils should be pliable and half-cooked by now.
  • Add the rest of the spices and the squash
  • Cover and cook on low flame. This will take another 15 minutes to cook.
  • You know the pumpkin pieces are cooked when they are soft and pliable with the gentle pressure of the back of a spoon. The dish is not supposed to look like mashed pumpkin.
  • Adjust spices, sugar and amchoor to suit your palate such that it is a good balance of spicy, sweet and sour. I have listed some ingredients as optional and you can skip them if not available.
  • Serve with chapatti or roti or my hubby's favourite, poori

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About Puneeta

Author, Educator, Speaker

Puneeta is a writer, food advocate and guide for those who seek earth-friendly, delicious solutions that work for real life.

Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma, Food Writer, Climate Advocate, New cookbook - Good Food, Healthy Planet - out April 2024
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma
Photo by Diana Muresan
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