These spicy lentils are cooked until soft and then served topped with cumin spiced paneer and caramelised kabocha squash for an easy vegetarian dinner which is packed with flavour!
This is my new favourite vegetarian dinner 😍
I absolutely love the combinations of squash, lentils and paneer in this meal. The lentils are the perfect level of spicy and they're cooked until super soft, the squash is super sweet and tender while the paneer gives that perfect chewy softness that I cannot get enough of.
I like to top mine with some mango yoghurt mixed with nigella seeds which helps to bring out the sweetness of the squash while cooling down the spiciness of the lentils.
Although there's quite a few steps to this recipe it's actually way easier than it looks. Once you've got the squash roasting you can make the lentils then it's just a case of frying the paneer while the lentils bubble.
Why we love this recipe...
This is a great vegetarian dinner which can also be made vegan by leaving out the paneer.
It's easy to make as long as you're organised. Get the squash in first and then you can put together the lentils and paneer while it roasts.
This recipe is pretty healthy thanks to the squash and lentils which are both packed with nutrients.
You can make this recipe as spicy as you like by adjusting the spice levels in the lentils and how much chilli flakes you add to the squash.
It makes great leftovers too. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
This section is here to provide further tips and ideas for alternative ingredients. The full recipe and instructions are included in the recipe card at the bottom of the post!
Caramelised Squash: I like to use kabocha squash for this recipe but you could use any squash you like. One of the benefits of kabocha squash is you don't need to peel it before roasting. The squash is tossed with olive oil, maple syrup, smoked paprika and chilli flakes before roasting.
Spicy Lentils: I use brown lentils which are cooked with onion, garlic and mixture of spices including cumin, chilli powder, turmeric and curry powder then simmered in water until super tender.
Paneer: I tossed the paneer in cumin before frying although that's not strictly necessary. Adding the spice before cooking just gives a little extra flavour!
How to make it
Roast the squash: Mix the squash with the olive oil, maple syrup, smoked paprika and chilli flakes (leave out if you don't like spice). Roast for 35-45 minutes until soft and caramelised.
Make the lentils: Fry the onion and garlic then add the spices and cook until fragrant. Add the lentils and water and cook for 30-45 minutes until soft.
Cook the paneer and serve: Toss the paneer in the cumin and fry until crispy and brown. Mix together the yoghurt and mango chutney. Serve the lentils, squash and paneer drizzled with the yoghurt.
What spices work well with lentils?
Lentils are so great because they really soak up any spices and flavourings you want to add to them. For these lentils I went with cumin, chilli powder, turmeric and curry powder. Feel free to get imaginative if you've got other spices to hand!
What is the benefit of lentils?
Lentils are so good for you! They're packed with fibre, potassium and iron and they can help to lower cholesterol.
What to do with leftovers?
The leftovers of this meal keep really well. Just store in sealed containers in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can reheat the lentils in a saucepan over a medium heat and put the paneer and squash in the oven for 10 minutes to heat through.
Want more? Try these other lentil recipes!
- Spicy Lentil Soup with Coconut
- Cauliflower Lentil Soup with Spinach
- Veggie Chilli with Lentils & Sweet Potato
- Pressure Cooker Smoky Lentil Stew
- Italian Lentil Sausage Soup
Spicy Lentils with Paneer and Caramelised Squash
For the Squash
- ½ Kabocha Squash seeds removed and cut into wedges
- 3 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 2 tablespoon Maple Syrup
- ½ tablespoon Smoked Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Chilli Flakes or to taste
- Salt and Pepper
For the Lentils
- 250 g Brown Lentils
- 1 Onion chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic crushed
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 2 litres Water
- 2 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- ½ teaspoon Chilli Powder
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric
- 2 teaspoon Curry Powder
For the Paneer
- 1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
- 200 g Paneer cubed
- ½ tablespoon Chilli Powder
- 4 tablespoon Greek Yoghurt
- 2 teaspoon Mango Chutney
- Coriander Leaves chopped
- Start by cooking the squash. Heat the oven to 220°C/425°F. Toss the squash on a baking sheet with the olive oil, maple syrup, paprika and chilli flakes. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 35-45 minutes until browned. Turn once during cooking.
- While the squash cooks make the lentils. Heat the vegetable oil over a medium high heat in a soup pot and add the onion, fry for a couple of minutes until translucent then add the garlic. Cook for another minute then add all of the spices and the bay leaf. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the lentils, stir to coat then pour in the water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 30-45 minutes until the lentils are falling apart.
- Just before the lentils have finished cooking toss the paneer in the chilli powder. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat. Fry the paneer until browned on all sides.
- Serve the lentils topped with the squash and paneer. Mix the yoghurt and mango chutney together and drizzle over the lentils. Sprinkle with coriander and serve.
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