• Traditional Indian Recipe

From New Indian Basics: Panch Phoran Channa Dal with Pumpkin

Last week, it was the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation which made me think about the traditions of our country’s First Nations. Growing up in Canada, I recall visiting the reconstructed Iroquoian village longhouses and learning about their way of life, food and farming. One memory that never left me was their cultivation of the “three sisters” — squash, beans and corn — and how each crop cleverly supported each other. I’m always reminded of this fact every Thanksgiving as I cook with a lot of squash!

With that, I wanted to share with you a recipe from our debut cookbook New Indian Basics, which you can try anytime this fall harvest season—Panch Phoran Channa Dal with Pumpkin. It’s so delicious with the panch phoran (Bengali Five Spice) and it’s a lovely pairing of pumpkin with hearty channa dal, which is not only nourishing and full of fibre but also economical to cook.

Note, for this recipe and all the others in the New Indian Basics, you can use our online Masala Conversion Guide to substitute most of the individual spices with one to two tablespoons of Arvinda's signature masalas for ease and convenience, making it easier for you to recreate these Indian specialties at home.

We have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend! Around our tables, with each other and loved ones, this is the time to take stock and reflect on all of the things that bring us goodness to our lives! However which way you are celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, may it be delicious, festive with lots of pumpkins and squash, and loaded with delicious spice flavours!

With gratitude and love, wishing you and your loved ones a harvest of blessings this Thanksgiving! Merci beaucoup, muchas gracias and dhanyavad!

P.S. As a way for us to express our sincere thanks, this weekend only (until 10/10/2023) receive a $15 Arvinda's gift card for every copy of New Indian Basics sold! For everyone who purchases the cookbook on this promotion, Arvinda's will donate a food item to a local food bank. Please visit our promotions page for the full details!



Panch phoran consists of five different spices that deliver a distinctive punch of flavor—brown mustard seeds add a mild pungency; nigella seeds lend a delicious oniony flavor; fenugreek seeds give a touch of bitterness; cumin brings in warmth and earthiness; and fennel imparts a licorice-like sweetness. This Bengali Five Spice never fails to add excitement to a dish, and this channa dal preparation with pumpkin is no exception. Channa dal as a lentil has a wonderful hearty texture and can handle the bold flavors of panch phoran. When cooked in the Instant Pot, the panch phoranimparts its extraordinary flavor so impeccably well, I don’t think I’ll be eating channa dal any other way now! This recipe is from New Indian Basics (Appetite by Penguin RandomHouse, 2022), photography by Reena Newman.


NOTE: Use 1 tablespoon of ARVINDA'S CURRY MASALA for convenience by omitting the spices marked with an asterisk (*) below.

1 CUP channa dal (Indian chickpeas, split and hulled), dried
2 TBSP. sunflower oil
2 TSP. Panch Phoran (page 49)
1 CUP cubed peeled pumpkin
1 medium tomato, finely cubed
1¼ TSP. sea salt, plus extra if necessary
½ TSP. coriander powder*
½ TSP. cumin powder*
½ TSP. turmeric powder*
¼ TSP. Indian chili powder*
½ TSP. garlic paste*
2 CUPS water, plus extra if necessary
Warming Garam Masala (page 45), to garnish
Fresh cilantro, to garnish

1) In a medium bowl, rinse the channa dal in a few changes of warm water. Cover with fresh warm water and set aside to soak.
2) Meanwhile, turn the setting of an Instant Pot to “sauté more.” Heat the oil and sprinkle in the panch phoran. Fry the spices until the cumin seeds turn golden brown, the mustard seeds begin to pop, and the spices become fragrant.
3) Lower the setting to “sauté less.” Add the pumpkin and tomatoes and sprinkle in the salt, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and chili powder {or ARVINDA'S CURRY MASALA}. Mix together, then stir in the garlic paste. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the spices become fragrant.
4) Drain the dal and add it to the Instant Pot, gently folding to coat the dal with the spices. Add the 2 cups water.
5) Take care to secure the lid correctly and be sure the pressure release valve is set to the sealing position. This is very important. The Instant Pot will register as “on.” Adjust the setting to “pressure cook low” and set the timer for 3 minutes. Once the pressure cooking is complete, the Instant Pot will begin the natural pressure release. Allow for 10 minutes of natural pressure release, then release the remaining pressure manually by carefully setting the pressure release valve to venting. Always wear an oven mitt or glove when venting and keep your hands and face away from the vent, as the steam is extremely hot and can burn! Handle the valve from the side, not from above or overhead. Open the lid only when it is safe to do so, checking that all the pressure has been released first.
6) Stir the dal, then thin out with extra water and adjust the salt if required.
7) Transfer the dal to a serving dish and garnish with garam masala and cilantro to taste.