My absolute FAVORITE way to use opo squash is in this traditional curried Indian dish (you may have heard me mention it before)! It’s healthy, very tasty, and sort of a one-pot recipe since it’s all cooked in my pressure cooker! You can probably call this dish one of my go-to quick meals to make for my entire family. My mom used to make this dish almost every week growing up, so it’s been with me for as long as I can remember.
Along with opo squash, this recipe contains one of my favorite lentils, Chana Dal, otherwise known as Split Bengal Gram. They are low in saturated fat, packed with nutritious carbohydrates, and have a really low glycemic index. If you’ve never used them before, they look just like yellow split peas, but are very different in taste and how they cook. Chana Dal is younger, smaller, and sweeter. Yellow split peas cook down to mush pretty quickly, whereas Chana Dal retains it’s shape pretty well, especially after being cooked in a pressure cooker. You can find them at just about any local Indian supermarket. You should also be able to find them in bags at places such as whole foods. But in case you don’t have them at hand, or can’t find them, this recipe will still taste great without them!
This recipe makes use of my pressure cooker, which I love using because it is so darn fast when it comes to cooking food (but don’t worry, if you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can easily make this dish using a pot)! The best part is that the food still retains the vitamins and minerals that can be lost when cooking food using other methods. I have used a few different types of pressure cookers, so check out the notes below in the recipe on pressure cooker cooking. If you’ve never used one before, I highly recommend purchasing one! But be sure to read the manual to know how to operate it safely. If you don’t own a pressure cooker, you can still make this dish stove-top.
So if you come across some opo squash, buy it and give this recipe a try! You can always peel, dice, and freeze it until you are ready to make this dish. I’ve bought a few opo squashes at one time and done this in the past! It cuts down my prep time and it’s perfect because you only have to slightly thaw it out before placing it in the pressure cooker! My family and I typically enjoy this curried dish with a side of yogurt and fresh roti’s, frozen Naan from Trader Joe’s, Pulau, or some plain rice. You can easily puree this curry for your little ones if they still have trouble chewing pieces of vegetables or lentils. I make this dish for my entire family at least 2-3x a month. I’ve always wanted to share the recipe with all of you, but kept forgetting to write it down while cooking in the past. Finally, here it is…
Curried Opo Squash
- 4 1/2 cup opo squash , peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup Chana Dal , or split chickpeas. Soaked in water for 30 minutes (see notes below)
- 1/2 tomato , diced
- 1/4 teasp black mustard seeds
- 1/4 teasp asafetida , optional
- 1 teasp ground turmeric
- 3 teasp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp jaggery , or brown sugar
- 1/4 teasp salt
- 4 teasp cooking oil
- 1/4 cup water
- chili powder , optional (for spice)
- fresh cilantro , chopped for garnish
- Drain the water out of the Chana Dal and set aside, discarding the water.
- In a medium sized pressure cooker, heat the vegetable oil on medium heat (if you do not wish to use a pressure cooker, see the notes below).
- Add the black mustard seeds and asafetida and fry for a few seconds until fragrant.
- Immediately add the diced opo squash, Chana Dal, turmeric, ground cumin-coriander powder, jaggery (or dark brown sugar), salt, chili powder (if using), chopped tomatoes, and water. Combine thoroughly.
- Lock the lid in place for the pressure cooker and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the steam begins to hiss out of the whistle, lower the heat to medium until you hear 2 to 3 more whistles (note that depending on your pressure cooker this may vary slightly). If your pressure cooker does not whistle, then when the steam begins to hiss out of the cooker, reduce the heat to low-medium just enough to maintain a very weak whistle. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and let it sit for about 15 minutes (the curry will continue to cook inside the pressure cooker).
- Carefully release the steam and open the lid of the pressure cooker.
- Place the pressure cooker (lid open) on medium heat once again and carefully mix the curry.
- Add salt to taste (if you need more sweetness, add more jaggery) and burn off any extra liquid if necessary (note that the curry should be pretty thick and not runny).
- Turn off the heat, add freshly chopped cilantro, and serve hot with a side of your favorite tortilla (Naan, Roti, etc.) or rice!
I just made the Curried Opo Squash dish and it’s great! There are many pluses about this dish, it’s super easy, fast, delicious and good for you! You can’t go wrong making this dish, you can adjust and modify as needed. Love it! Thanks Anjali!
Isn’t it awesome?!? I’m so glad you tried this dish out. It’s quick, full of good-for-you ingredients, a one-dish meal, and you’re exactly right, you can easily adjust and modify as needed. I’ve even thrown in some chopped fresh spinach in at the end for some added greens. Thank you for trying out the recipe!
I just bought opo squash never have before like trying different foods on a whim. Your recipe came up so I will try tomorrow
Did you try this recipe? I have an update for it soon using the instant pot! It’s one of our favorites!
How much water are you supposed to soak the chana dal in?
Enough to cover all the dal. The exact amount doesn’t matter since you’ll drain out all the water prior to adding it in! Hope that helps! Let me know how it turns out!
I want to try this, but my gut is telling me there is a misprint. I can’t see how 1/4 of water is enough to cook 1/2 cup of the dal. I understand the dal is soaked and that the squash will give off some water, but it still seems like there should be a lot more water. Maybe 1 1/4 cups water? Sorry if I missed something
Hi Bob! Are you using a pressure cooker for this recipe? If so, you really don’t need much more than 1/4 cup water. Since you soak the dal ahead of time, it does not require as much water. Also, the dal in this dish is not completely soft and mushy…it is completely cooked, yet firm enough that it easily holds its shape in the final dish. Of course you can always add more and just boil off any extra after it’s cooked in the pressure cooker, but for pressure cooker cooking, not much water is needed. What size pressure cooker do you have? If you are cooking stove-top, I always recommend to add a smaller amount of water, cover, and cook until tender, but then adding additional water if you need to avoid the dish from burning, which I have in the notes section as well (you will probably need more than 1/4 cup for stove-top). Let me know if this makes sense. Like I said, you can easily add a little more, but i highly caution against 1 1/4 cup water…that’s a lot for a pressure cooker especially since the opo squash itself releases a lot of water. Hope that helps! Let me know if you try out the dish!
I saw Opo squash in the supermarket and bought it without a clue what it was or how it should be cooked. Fortunately, I found your wonderful recipe, followed it religiously (using a regular pot), and we all LOVED the dish!! You are so thoughtful to provide clear, easy-to-follow directions as well as the enticing photo of the finished dish. We’ll be making this dish again and again, happily following the your directions—no need for our family to try to improve on what’s a perfect recipe for us, and so quick and easy to make. Thank you very much!!!
Thank you for the wonderful review!! Opo squash is awesome, just not as used sometimes. Yes, this recipe is a childhood favorite so glad you guys liked it and the recipe was clear! Thanks again!!
Honestly, this recipe is spectacular! Delicious and low-calorie (I use 1 1/2 tsp. of brown sugar instead of 2+ Tbs.). Even though I’ve maintained my Weight Watchers goal weight for six years, doing so is still tough at times, and for the last few years, when I get a few pounds over goal, I treat myself to a dinner of your Curried Opo Squash for days or even weeks at a time until the pounds are gone. I never get tired of it, and it’s so easy to make! Long ago, I solved my only problem with the recipe, which was finding a year-round source of opo squash: Indian grocery stores always have it. Thank you very much, Anjali, for posting this great recipe, accessible to people like me with no background in Indian cooking.
Wow thank you SO SO much Anna for the awesome review of the recipe and kind words. This recipe is from my childhood and I still make it at least once a week or two in my own home. Like you, I love it because it has veggies and protein. And yes, so glad you found a constant source of opo squash since it’s not readily available at most grocery stores. I’ve found it at asian markets and Indian grocery stores ALWAYS have it as you mentioned. Thank you again so much! Hopefully you get a chance to try out some of the other indian recipes on my site!
Long squash was on sale at my local Asian grocery, so I bought some even though I had no idea what to do with it.
Thanks to this recipe, I will be buying long squash a lot more often! I love chana dal, and both the dal and the squash picked up the flavors beautifully.
I did add some amchur at the end, since I thought it could use a sour note. The recipe was good on its own, but with the amchur it became super addictive.
Awesome thank you! Glad you loved it!
Susan J. Rosen
Wondering if I can use my instant pot and what instructions fo you think I would change for the cook timing ?
Yes absolutely! I actually have a recipe update for this post just for that…I make it in the instant pot all the time! I’d say high pressure cooking on IP for about 6-8 minutes depending on the size of your opo squash pieces and whether you soaked the chana dal prior to cooking. Otherwise it’d work just the same. Be sure to NPR in the instant pot for about 5-7 minutes before opening. Also add coriander-cumin mixture afterwards! Let me know how it turns out and watch for an update soon!
Flavour is good, but I had to recook and set 3 times….
Thanks for the feedback…did you use a pressure cooker or instant pot? That’s so odd you had to recook it 3 times since it’s a squash and should cook fairly quickly. We make this recipe a few times a month with these settings.