Reader Recipe: Nilam’s Split Pea and Calabash Squash Curry

split pea pressure cooker curry
Nilam, from the Khavanu Blog, shares her family’s Gujarati curry – don’t let the exotic squash dissuade from trying it – you can also use zucchini!

She grew with most of her meals prepared in a pressure cooker. As a vegetarian, she uses it quite a bit to reduce the cooking time for beans and lentils.

In Nilam’s own words:

Mom’s dudhi channa shak or yellow split pea and squash curry. One of a dozen recipes I have carefully gleaned on my trip home.

In getting the Gujarati term for this squash/gourd correct, I did a few web searches, and asked each parent to spell it before settling on a spelling. Dudhi. Doothi. Doodhi. In Hindi, lauki. Calabash squash is a type of bottle gourd which is used when it’s young and green. If you can find it (usually at an Asian or south Asian market) peel the skin off and remove the seeds. It’s mild, and it holds its shape well in curries or soups which are simmered. However, don’t let it scare you off – yellow summer squash or zucchini squash can be used instead of the calabash squash.

Although the recipe ingredient list looks long you can omit many of the spices you don’t have, or add spices such as increasing the heat with extra jalapenos or red chili powder. First read the recipe all the way through. Soak the split peas first, then prep the ingredients.

Serve the finished dish alongside some buttered hot pita bread, or over rice. It would make an excellent vegetarian/vegan main course, or perhaps even a one-pot meal for the weekend.

Split Pea and Calabash Squash Curry (Pressure Cooker Recipe)1 cup yellow split peas; soaked in water in a bowl, set aside.
1 tbsp peanut oil
1/4 tsp udad dhal, optional
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds, optional
1/2 tsp mustard seeds, optional
pinch asafoetida, or hing, optional
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp ginger, chopped fine
1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
water as needed
2 cups calabash squash, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks. Remove the seeds (ok to substitute unpeeled yellow summer squash or zucchini squash)
1/3 cup tomato chunks, thinned with about 2 tbsp of water
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp coriander, ground
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided, safe half for garnish
1-2 tsps garam masala, to add just before serving
red chili flakes to be passed when servedWash the yellow split peas well. Place them in a medium size bowl and cover them with water.

Add the oil to a medium-sized pot, and heat up over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the udad dhal, fenugreek and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop (about 1 minute) add in the asafoetida powder. Stir everything together and then add the onions, garlic, and ginger. Continue to saute, turning the heat down to medium. If omitting the optional ingredients, add the onions, garlic, and ginger to the oil and saute until golden.

Add the yellow split peas (along with the water they are soaking in) to the pot along with 1 cup of water. Add the tomato chunks thinned with a bit of water, turmeric, salt, cumin and coriander.

Add the calabash squash chunks (see note below about subbing squashes), and half of the chopped cilantro. Stir everything together and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Close and lock the pressure cooker.

Pressure cook at high pressure for 10 minutes and open with natural release (or 3 whistles and open with the natural release.

Note: if subbing in summer squash or zucchini, pressure cook split peas for 5 minutes, open with normal release, add the zucchini, and then bring to high pressure again for another 5 minutes and open with natural release – this will prevent the squash from over cooking and falling apart.

Finish the dish by stirring in garam masala and chopped cilantro.

Serves 4.

Recipe and Photo Credits Khavanu Blog

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