Roasted mini pumpkins stuffed with aromatic lentil dhal

I saw these mini pumpkins (pardon me if there is a more appropriate term) while I was enjoying my weekly peruse of the gourmet grocery store (all 23 year olds look forward to this, right?) Desperate to have a plausible excuse for buying novelty sized pumpkins, I decided that, backed on the self appraised, un-empirical success of my Green Thai Curry stuffed sweet potatoes, I would use this opportunity to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. 

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I took them home, adored them, showed them off to my family, and photographed them huddled together in various places throughout my house. Then I got down to work. As I painstakingly carved the top of the first pumpkin, I thought to myself 'these are exceedingly hard to hollow out, how do people have the time for this?.' Then I had an ephiphany (which would be better labeled as a stroke of logic) - maybe I should cook the pumpkin before trying to hollow it out. Genius.

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And so began the series of unfortunate events. All went smoothly in the cooking process - the pumpkins cooked perfectly and the dhal was delicious. I hollowed out my baby pumpkins, and filled the first one up. Alas, an uneven surface, a clumsy hand and a spoonful of dhal, and my pumpkins (or world) came crashing down. My Dad meandered in as my neanderthal-eqsue error had begun to sunk in, and I furiously blinked back pumpkin related tears as I pretended there was a dish that needed a real hard scrub in the sink. 

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A solid three paragraphs later, I have gotten to my point that the one salvageable pumpkin looks very squashed in my photos, Apologies.

INGREDIENTS

4 mini pumpkins (or perhaps one normal sized one if you can't find mini ones)
2 cans of lentils, drained 
2 cans of tomatoes, unflavoured
1 large onion
2+ large garlic cloves (I seem to be sensitive to garlic at the moment so I erred on the cautious side.. insert crying face here)
4 teaspoons whole garam masala, ground in a mortar and pestle (pre-ground will suffice)
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
medium knob of ginger, crushed
4 teaspoons tomato paste
fresh coriander, to serve
generous salt and pepper
chilli if you like it hot (I cater to a Mother with the spice tolerance of something with no spice tolerance)

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METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Pop your pumpkin/s on a tray and into the oven. The mini pumpkins took about an hour to cook, a larger one will take longer. Keep an eye on it.
3. In a saucepan, put a generous splash of olive oil and allow to warm. Add the chopped onion on a medium heat, and cook until translucent and starting to brown. Next up, add the garlic and ginger, and a bit more oil if it starts to stick. Garlic burns quickly so keep an eye on it.
4. Combine your spices in a small bowl, and then add a splash of water to make a paste. This keeps the spices from burning when you add them to the pot. Thanks for da hot tip, daytime TV.
5. Add the spice paste and cook for a minute or so until they become aromatic. Then add your tinned tomatoes and stir to combine.
6. Add the tomato paste to the mix, and when it is all combined, add your lentils in too. You can add half the coriander to the dhal now, or save it all for garnish. Up 2 u.
7. Leave to cook for about 20 minutes on a low to medium heat, stirring intermittently so it doesn't stick to the bottom. 
8. When the pumpkin is ready and cooled a bit, cut a whole in the top and scoop out the cooked seeds and a bit of flesh. Fill it up with the dhal, sprinkle with coriander and you are raring to go.
Β 

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