Recipe: Pumpkin Lentil Curry with Apples

Any of you have cans of pumpkin getting lonely in your pantry, from when you stocked up over the holidays?  I do!  I bet you do too.  This recipe will come in handy for you.  And, not only will it use up that can of pumpkin in a (likely welcome) non-dessert form, this dish is  – as my friend Matt likes to say – it is one of my  “all healthied up” recipes.  Indeed, it’s pretty much chock full of high-fibre, low-fat, nutrient-dense plant-powered goodness!

About a month ago I was scurrying to make dinner (ok, I’m often scurrying to make dinner, but this one dish was created this particular night)!  I wanted something soul-soothing, but with a kick.  I was feeling like doing a more elaborate Indian curry, but really did not want to pull out my pantry stock of spices.  Truly, curries made from scratch – with spices and aromatics like cumin seed, mustard seed,  turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, ginger, and garlic – have the best and most authentic flavors.  But, sometimes you just want to throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and be done with it!

This is your curry quick-fix!  Yes, it uses generic curry powder, which doesn’t quite stand up to original curry blends.  But, it works in a pinch.  And, when your toddler might be pinching your butt while you’re cooking.  You get the idea.  Plus, the other additions in this lentil curry bring it to life – the addition of the pumpkin, apples, and a little hit of lemon juice.  When you’re in a hurry, this is your curry.

Pumpkin Lentil Curry with Apples

This is a dish I made on the fly.  When I literally had about an hour to get dinner together, had some rice in the fridge and wanted to pair it with a tasty, wholesome legume dish.  It was a cold night, and the feeling of a warm curry was on my mind.  This dish comes together in a snap, and gives you the chance to use up any cans of pumpkin hanging out in your pantry!

splash of water

1 – 1 1/4 cups chopped onions

1 tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 – 1 1/2 tbsp mild curry powder (see note)

1 tsp ground coriander

1 1/2 cups dry (uncooked) green/brown lentils, rinsed

3/4 – 1 cup canned pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix!  see note)

2 3/4 cups water (or more if desired)

1 bay leaf

1 cup chopped apple

1 1/2 -2 tbsp lemon juice (optional, but perks up flavor nicely)

lemon wedges for serving

extra salt/pepper to season, if desired

In a large pot, add water, onions, salt, pepper, curry powder, and coriander over medium/medium-high heat.  Cover and let cook for 4-5 minutes, removing cover to stir through once.  If onions are sticking, add another splash of water.  Add lentils, and stir through for a few minutes, then add pumpkin and water (starting with 2 3/4 cups, and reserving apple) and bay leaf.  Increase heat up to high to bring up to a boil, then once at boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 30-35 minutes, or longer, until lentils become tender and water is absorbed.  If they aren’t tender and the water is all absorbed, add a little extra water, about 1/4 cup (some batches may need more water), and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes or more.  Once tender, add the apples, stir through and let cook for another 5 minutes, just to heat the apples through.  If you’d like a moister curry, simply stir in a little extra water.  Add lemon juice, stir through, and serve, with lemon wedges for individual portions (see serving suggestions). Season with extra salt/pepper to taste.  Serves 4.

Curry Note:  Curry powders can differ in heat and intensity.  Most generic mild curry powders are not too spicy, so I find anywhere from 1-1 1/2 tbsps adds very good flavor without too much heat intensity.  You can add less/more as you like, and knowing the brand of curry powder you have and use.

Pumpkin Note: I give a range for this recipe, simply because when I use a can of pumpkin myself, if I use the full 1 cup, I have about 3/4 cup left.  I refrigerate or freeze that remaining 3/4 cup, and next time I make this dish, I use that amount!  Or vice-versa… so, you can use whichever amount you like.

Serving suggestions:  Serve with brown rice or another whole-grain, along with a chutney (mango chutney is nice), and/or whole-grain rotis (or whole-grain tortillas) and a big hearty fresh salad!


  1. Lynn in MD says

    Love this recipe! I’ve been making it for years. Usually serve it with brown Basmati rice and whole wheat roti.

  2. says

    Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Very useful info specially the closing section :) I handle such information a lot. I was seeking this certain information for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

  3. Lynn says

    What a great way to use up canned pumpkin. The apple and lemon flavours are absolutely perfect!! Just had a big plate of it over romaine lettuce. Fabulous!!!

  4. says

    Thx for the recipe my hubby grows pumpkins for our grand kids and I roasted one of the small ones last night.This morning thought I had all ingredents was 1/2 cup short with lentils so I used yellow split peas for that 1/2 cup and used my homemade veggie broth.

    The smell is so GREAT and the lil pre tasting is YUMMY ;0)
    Again thx for the great recipe.

  5. says

    Oh yes, haha THIS is happening!
    I adore pumpkin-flavored-anything (most notably, soy lattes, muffins, cookies, etc), but only in the last few months I’m starting to use pumpkin in more savory cooking styles as opposed to sweet.
    Thanks so much for the recipe….I have Viva La Vegan and can’t wait to check out your latest book! :)

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