Chances are, if you are not from Asia, you have not had the opportunity to meet the Opo Squash.
Well, I suggest you welcome the Opo Squash with open arms into your lives. And for many reasons. Besides a chock load of fiber, it provides Vitamins A, C, B vitamins – niacin, thiamine, riboflavin. And if that’s not enough, it also provides calcium, iron and potassium! It is also very versatile finding it’s way to fritters, vegetarian meatballs, vegetable curries, vegetable juices and my mom even makes a dessert with it! So next time you chance upon an opo squash, you know better than to ignore it:-)
Now pair the opo squash with lentils and you’ve scored big time! All I need is some rice to go with it…And that is exactly, what I am doing today. Making yellow lentils with opo squash or ‘toovar dal with dudhi/ghiya’.
For this recipe, you need yellow lentils or ‘toovar dal’, which looks like this….
and opo squash, turmeric, cumin seeds, red chilli powder or cayenne pepper, garam masala, ghee or oil, serrano pepper, onion, cilantro, and lemon juice.
Rinse the lentils several times in water.
Peel and dice the opo squash. I like to pick a small to medium sized opo squash because the seeds are still tender. If you have a large opo squash, I prefer removing the seeds. Just like you would remove the seeds from a cucumber.
I usually cook the lentils with the squash in a pressure cooker, but if you do not have one, put the lentils and the squash in a heavy bottom pot.
Add some turmeric powder and 1/2 tsp oil or ghee, some salt and let it come to a boil.
Then simmer covered, till lentils are cooked. This should take about 40 minutes.
In the mean time, chop the onions and tomatoes, mince the garlic, chop the serrano pepper, and chop the cilantro. Maybe boil some rice on the side to serve with the lentils. I usually make a raita or yogurt based salad with the remaining opo squash.
In a separate small heavy bottom saucepan, heat some ghee…
Add the cumin seeds…
and the chopped onions…
and the chopped serrano pepper and saute for about 3-4 minutes…
Now add the minced garlic and saute for two minutes before adding the chopped tomatoes…
saute for about 3 minutes and add the red chilli powder/cayenne and garam masala powder, stir and cook for about 2 more minutes. This is now ready to be mixed into the lentils.
The lentils should be cooked and look like this.
Now add the tomato onion mixture into the lentils…
Add some lemon juice and garnish with cilantro.
For vegan yellow lentils with opo squash, use canola or vegetable oil instead of ghee. However, my mom always used ghee for making lentils and that is what I am sticking to!
Here is the recipe
1 cup toovar dal
1/2 medium sized opo squash ( about 3 cups diced squash)
2 roma tomatoes
1 serrano pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/3 tsp cayenne or red chilli powder
1/2 medium onion ( about 1 cup chopped onion)
2 tbsp ghee or vegetable or canola oil
6-7 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups water
2 tbsp lemon juice
Wash, peel and dice the opo squash.
Rinse and drain the ‘toovar’ lentils about 3 -4 times. Add the water, the opo squash, turmeric powder and 1/2 tbsp ghee and let this mixture come to boil. After it comes to a boil, cover the mixture and let this simmer till the lentils are soft.
In the meanwhile, chop the onions, the serrano pepper, tomatoes, cilantro and garlic.
In a small heavy bottom pan, heat the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp ghee and add the cumin seeds. Let the cumin seeds sizzle before adding the onions. Saute the onions till they turn translucent, about 4 minutes, and add the garlic. Saute for about 2 minutes and add the tomatoes. After two minutes, add the red chilli powder/cayenne pepper and garam masala powder. Saute for two minutes and the mixture is now ready to be mixed into the lentils.
When the lentils are soft and cooked through, add some salt and pour the tomato onion mixture over. Mix gently and add the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve with rice or ‘roti’ and any ‘raita’.