Dhal Stuffed Baked Pumpkin

A stuffed baked pumpkin gets a Sri Lankan tweak.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Sri Lankan
Keyword baked, dhal, pumpkin, stuffed
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 kg pumpkin
  • 200 g red (masoor) lentils
  • 50 g onion or shallots
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 or 2 red or green chillies
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 thin slices ginger
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 5 cm stick of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • water


  • Turn the oven on to 175C.
  • Start preparing your dhal.
  • Chop 50g of onion or shallot into small pieces.
  • Chop 2 cloves of garlic into small pieces.
  • Chop 2 thin slices of ginger into small matchsticks.
  • Chop 1 or 2 chillies into small pieces.
  • Strip the leaves from 1 sprig of curry leaves.
  • Put the 200 g of red lentils into a bowl. Cover the lentils with cold water. Mix the water and lentils with your hand for a few seconds. Pour off the cloudy water leaving the lentils in the bowl. Do this 2 more times. You are cleaning the lentils of any grit and excess starch (which is what turns the water cloudy).
  • Put 4 tbsp of vegetable oil in the saucepan and let it heat up for a minute or so. You want it to be hot but not smoking.
  • Add 50 g chopped onion or shallots and let them soften. This should take 2 - 3 minutes. Don't worry if the onion or shallots get a little brown.
  • Add the curry leaves. Stand back from the saucepan when you do this because they can spit and you don't want to get scalded with hot oil.
  • Add 2 tsp of cumin seeds.
  • Add 2 chopped cloves of garlic,, 2 chopped slices of ginger and 1 or 2 chopped chillies.
  • Let this fry for a minute.
  • Add 1 tsp of turmeric.
  • Add a 5 cm stick of cinnamon, keep it whole.
  • Add 200 g of washed lentils.
  • Add a pinch of salt.
  • Add enough water to cover the dhal to a depth of 2 or 3 cms.
  • Bring the dhal to a simmer and keep it simmering for 15 - 20 minutes. The dhal for this dish is ready when most of the water has been absorbed by the dhal. The dhal should look like porridge or muesli. Each lentil seed should be soft. You may need to add a little water from time to time if the water is absorbed before the lentils are soft.
  • While the dhal is cooking prepare the pumpkin.
  • Slice the top of the pumpkin enough to expose the hollow inside. How far from the top you do this depends on the size of the pumpkin. If you cut the top and find you haven't cut far enough, don't worry. Cut slices off till you can see the hollow and seeds.
  • Using a spoon, scoop out the pumpkin seeds and the stringy flesh inside.
  • Put the pumpkin aside till the dhal is ready.
  • When the dhal is ready, prepare the pumpkin for baking.
  • Place the pumpkin on a sheet of aluminium foil big enough to cover the whole pumpkin.
  • Spoon the dhal into the hollow of the pumpkin till it reaches the top. Don't worry if you haven't enough dhal, just fill it as much as you can. If you have left over dhal, keep it to serve with the final dish.
  • Put the top back on the pumpkin and wrap the pumpkin up in the foil.
  • Put the wrapped pumpkin on a baking tray or dish and put it in the over. If your oven has not yet reached 175C wait till it does before putting the pumpkin in.
  • Let the pumpkin cook for 1 hour and then test to see if it is baked. To test for this, take a bamboo or metal skewer or a fork and gently press the point into the pumpkin through the foil. If the skewer or fork goes in easily the pumpkin is ready. If it doesn't, keep baking the pumpkin and test for doneness every 15 minutes.
  • When the pumpkin is baked, take it out of the oven. Unwrap it from the foil.
  • To serve you can either carefully lift the whole pumpkin off the foil and onto a serving plate, or you can cut individual servings of the pumpkin while it is sitting on the foil. It's more dramatic if you take the whole pumpkin to the table.
  • Whichever way you do it, the idea is to give each person a wedge of pumpkin and some dhal.
  • Serve with rice, pita bread or roti.