Paleo Cauliflower & Pumpkin ‘Dal’

This Whole30 & paleo-friendly adaptation of a traditional dal (or dahl, dhal) is made with pumpkin and cauliflower and no legumes. This stew-like Indian-inspired dish is nutritious and full of fibre and is perfect as a plant-based dinner. You can make it with pumpkin or any other sweet winter squash. Of course, you can always serve it with regular rice too.

Paleo Dhal (or Dal) With Pumpkin & Cauliflower

Cauliflower & Pumpkin ‘Dal’

Dal, also known as Daal, Dahl and Dhal depending on who you ask, is a lovely, hearty and comforting stew-like dish from India made with pulses. Dal itself is a name for a pulse but the dish is often made with split peas or chickpeas.

Unless I go through a rigorous process of soaking, maybe sprouting and then intensive cooking, those little buggers don’t agree with me. BUT, I love the idea of dal and the flavours it carries, so I’ve decided to make my own paleo version without the legumes.

This is ‘dal’ only by association but equally warming and delicious. Instead of using legumes, I thought I could use pumpkin or squash (sweet potato or carrot could also be used) for sweetness, colour and mushy texture. To add some crunch, I used some finely chopped cauliflower, as you would for cauliflower rice, and some sesame seeds. A huge whack of spices and some coconut milk, and I actually created something I am super proud of.

My paleo ‘dal’ is full of nutrients and fibre and can be eaten as is on a cold night or as a side with some meat or fish. It goes really well with some boiled or fried eggs for breakfast.

Pumpkin Cauliflower Dal Paleo Whole30

I’ve done this recipe twice now and it is absolutely delicious! I’m doing it for a dinner party tonight, serving it with beef madras, rice and chapatis but it’s amazing on its own too. Thank you!

★ – Jeremy C.

I can’t describe how good this “Dal” is. We make it regularly and it’s fantastic. The flavours are great and the texture of the cauliflower with the sesame seeds just gives it that extra dimension and texture. I’m having it for lunch today and can’t wait! Thanks so much for doing the experimenting for us Irena 🙂

★ – Maddy

Diced pumpkin and cauliflower for making dal

Tips For Making Paleo Dal

Garam Masala is an Indian spice mix made with pepper, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, bay leaf and cumin (usually, there are variations). You can find it in any supermarket or Asian stores. I love having it around as it’s great for curries and stews. If you can’t find any garam masala, simply mix tother mild curry powder with a little cinnamon, nutmeg and cumin.

Ginger and garlic powders can be used instead of fresh.

The thickened part of the coconut milk in a can is the same as using coconut cream. Sweet potato and carrot can be used in place of pumpkin, I used butternut pumpkin/squash as it’s usually quite sweet.

AIP modifications: omit the sesame seeds and the chilli flakes and check the spice mix ingredients as onions can bother some people, in which case you can use a leek instead.

Paleo Pumpkin Dal

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Paleo Pumpkin Dal

Paleo Cauliflower & Pumpkin 'Dal'

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Author: Irena Macri
Servings: 4
Course: Main
Cuisine: Indian-inspired
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5 from 12 votes
Calories: 431kcal
Learn how to make legume-free, paleo-friendly dal with pumpkin, cauliflower and sesame seeds. It's a hearty, nutritious dish that is also plant-based. Sub fish sauce for coconut aminos or extra salt for a vegan version.


  • 1 large onion finely diced (use a food processor)
  • 20 grams ghee or butter - 1 tablespoon (or 2 tablespoons olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 3 large cloves garlic finely diced or grated
  • 500 grams butternut pumpkin or squash, diced into small cubes (1 lb.)
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala or mild curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce optional
  • 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 200 g coconut cream 1 cup
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/2 medium head cauliflower broken into florets
  • A handful of fresh coriander chopped
  • Extra sesame seeds and coconut cream for garnish


  • Sauté onion in ghee and coconut oil over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, until softened and slightly golden.
  • Add the ginger, squash and garlic and stir through for a minute. Add the spices and stir through. Then add the fish sauce, stock, coconut cream, lime juice, salt and sesame seeds and stir through. Bring to boil, turn down to medium-low and cover with a lid. Cook for about 8-10 minutes.
  • In the meantime, either chop or grind the cauliflower florets into small crumbs. I used a food processor and added separated florets in three batches, whizzed a few times for a couple of seconds each time, until finely chopped up but not completely ground up into dust. You can use a knife and chop the cauli super finely.
  • After 8-10 minutes of cooking the pumpkin, stir in the cauliflower rice and cook together for 5 minutes, covered with a lid. Stir a couple of times.
  • Using a potato masher, press down the cooked mixture a few times to soften the pumpkin pieces slightly. You want some of the pumpkin flesh to become the sauce itself.
  • Serve with fresh coriander and a dollop of coconut cream or yoghurt. Add a few sesame seeds over the top for presentation.


Can I freeze this dal? I don't recommend freezing this particular dish as it will lose some fo the texture but as a plant-based recipe, it will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge.


Calories: 431kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 620mg | Potassium: 1079mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 13380IU | Vitamin C: 68mg | Calcium: 116mg | Iron: 4mg
Keywords: Grain-Free, Cauliflower Recipes, Indian Recipes, Paleo, Pumpkin
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Let me know what you think of this recipe in the comments and don’t forget to share with your friends and family. It’s delicious!


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Pumpkin Cauliflower Dal (Whole30, Paleo, Plant-Based)
Irena Macri
By Irena Macri

About the author: Hi, I’m Irena Macri. I share delicious recipes that I have cooked and loved. I am a published cookbook author, have been food blogging for over 10 years and have a Diploma in Nutrition. You will find many healthy recipes as well as my favourite comfort food. More about me here | Subscribe to my newsletter and freebies

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    1. You know I have to say that it was probably even yummier than the real thing 😉 Also sweeter because of the pumpkin, which I like.

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you
    I love this pumpkin and cauliflower Dahll
    The texture is just like the real thing and tasted amazing.
    Love it, love it, love it.
    Your mushroom soup recipe is amazing as well X

    1. Thanks Donna 🙂 Glad you loved it. I really enjoy it as well, especially on a chilly night.

  2. 5 stars
    Just tried this… SO SO SO delicious!!! I don’t have a kitchen scale so wasn’t sure about how much “pumpkin” to use. I used half of a butternut squash instead but probably could have used the whole thing. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Mine came out more like a soup than a dal (too much liquid) but it was delicious nonetheless. And extremely filling!

  4. 5 stars
    I can’t describe how good this “Dal” is. We make it regularly and it’s fantastic. The flavours are great and the texture of the cauliflower with the sesame seeds just gives it that extra dimension and texture. I’m having it for lunch today and can’t wait! Thanks so much for doing the experimenting for us Irena 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    I have been looking for quick and easy vegetarian dishes for ages. Who knew I just had to go Paleo to find them.

  6. 5 stars
    This was so delicious, I cannot wait to have it again!!! Made it tonight for the first time. Used a 400ml can of coconut cream by accident but as I kept the cauliflower florets as is (didn’t make the rice), added broccoli florets and half a red pepper, the extra liquid was welcome to soften and simmer them in. I also left out the fish sauce, sesame seeds, squash and coriander because I didn’t have them handy.

    1. Thanks, Stephanie! Good to know it all still worked and tasted good without some of the ingredients. Fish sauce can certainly be replaced with a little more salt to taste.

  7. 5 stars
    Utterly delicious! I like my pumpkin very tender so did cook my veggies slightly longer than recommended so test yours at the end of the 8-10 minute mark to see if you are satisfied with the texture. Also this is NOT a QUICK weekday meal if you are a working mom! Save it for the weekend its worth it and you wont get stressed out by how long the prepping takes.

    This one is a definite keeper 🙂

    Thanks Irena!

  8. 5 stars
    I’ve done this recipe twice now and it is absolutely delicious! I’m doing it for a dinner party tonight, serving it with beef madras, rice and japatis but it’s amazing on it’s own too. Thank you

  9. 5 stars
    I just made this for the first time and am absolutely amazed! It’s super delicious, I served it with some fish and the whole family enjoyed it!
    I had to substitute the ginger with nutmeg and used fresh tumeric and it worked a treat 🙂

  10. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious. I had to make some adjustments – I only had a half a tin of coconut milk and I doubled all the other ingredients and added a carrot and instead of garam masala I used madras curry. But it was still so good my husband even commented that I upped my game with this one:):) Thank you Irena, for this marvellous recipe.

    1. Thanks, Karolina. Glad I could help you up your game with this one 😉 Appreciate the comment and rating. Irena xo

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