This Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Dal with lentils and coconut milk is a delicious vegan recipe – pair this Indian dish with basmati rice for a full meal!
Ingredients in slow cooker dal
Let me talk to you about meatless meals. They're cheap, they're flavourful, they're hearty and most of the time, they're wholesome. The thing with meatless dinners is that you really need to get creative and make whatever produce you're using shine.
This Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Dal fits my definition of a magnificent, meatless masterpiece. Made with hearty red lentils, chunks of butternut squash, loads of garlic and some baby spinach, you really can't go wrong with this dish. Oh and did I mention…the whole process is hands off thanks to a handy dandy slow cooker?
- yellow onion
- small butternut squash
- red lentils
- coconut milk
- canned diced tomatoes
- curry powder
- chili powder
How to make slow cooker dal
This butternut squash dal is a delicious, simple recipe that you can cook throughout the day while you're at work so you come home to a fast, tasty meal. Or, you can chop up the ingredients and dump in the slow cooker on Sunday while you lounge around relaxing, watching TV, reading books or exploring outside. Really, it's up to you what you do with the glorious, extra hours you'll have while waiting for this to cook.
Here's how to make it step-by-step:
- Add all ingredients to the slow cooker except for spinach, garnishes and rice.
- Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 8 hours.
- Cook the basmati rice at some point while the dal is in the slow cooker – I usually do this half an hour before the dal is finished.
- Once dal is finished cooking, stir in spinach and then plate with rice, garnishing with sesame seeds and cilantro if desired.
This is a super versatile recipe so you can change up the ingredients for this dish as you please. Here are some suggestions:
Veggies – The veggies you choose to include in this meal are up for debate. I prefer the butternut squash as it cooks slowly and adds a lovely, nutty and sweet flavour to the curry and turmeric, but I could also see any sort of bell pepper or sweet potato working well here. Add in whatever you'd like, including changing up the greens at the end.
Lentils – You can use brown or green lentils with this recipe instead of red lentils. Just a warning though, red lentils become softer and turn into a stew-like texture whereas the other lentils hold their shape more and absorb less liquid, which may result in more of a soupy texture.
Spices – Turmeric, curry powder and chili powder are used in this recipe – I highly recommend keeping the turmeric, but you can add or remove the other spices. Cumin, garam masala, cardamom, coriander and paprika would make excellent additions.
What to serve with butternut squash dal
Garnish your meatless masterpiece with some sesame seeds and cilantro, and serve alongside some basmati rice. Pro tip: herbs are not just for garnishing. I absolutely love eating generous amounts of them alongside curries, salads, sandwiches and one pot meals, and herbs like cilantro and parsley have killer health benefits and are nutritionally dense. Consider giving a giant handful a try next time you cook up a big meal!
Here are some other serving suggestions:
- Wild rice
- Side salad
- Roasted broccoli
- Steamed cauliflower or cauliflower rice
- Crusty bread
- Naan or pitas, to dip
Storing and reheating
What I especially love about this meal is that it reheats well, so you'll have leftovers for the whole week. You can keep this slow cooker dal in the fridge up to 5 days. I recommend storing in individual portion sizes in meal prep containers so that all you need to do is reheat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Make sure to sprinkle some water overtop before reheating to help the dal retain moisture and not dry out.
Freezing lentil dal
Freezing this lentil dal is super easy too! Just store in glass containers with lids and either defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat in the microwave, or you can reheat from frozen for 6-7 minutes in the microwave. Store the dal and the rice separately in the freezer to preserve them both properly.
More vegetarian slow cooker recipes
- Slow cooker African peanut stew
- Slow cooker sweet potato lentil chili
- Instant Pot/slow cooker minestrone
Meal prep tools
- This is the brand of basmati rice that I use
- I also use red lentils like these ones here
- Get your Slow Cooker here
- I also love these glass meal prep bowls for reheating this recipe in individual portions
Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Dal
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 small yellow onions diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 small butternut squash cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 1/2 cups dry red lentils
- 1 (400mL) can coconut milk
- 1 (796mL) can diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 cups spinach chopped
- Cilantro and sesame seeds for garnish
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 pinch salt
- Add all ingredients to slow cooker in order that they are listed except for spinach, garnishes and rice.
- Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 8 hours. Meanwhile, cook basmati rice according to package directions in a rice cooker or on the stovetop.
- Once dal is finished cooking, stir in spinach and then plate with rice, garnishing with sesame seeds and cilantro. Enjoy!