¾ cup tuvar dal (about 2 cups cooked). Boil with ¼ tsp turmeric until very tender and mushy.
¼ tsp asafoetida (hing)
1 cup red pumpkin cubes
1 cup white pumpkin cubes
1 large onion, diced
15 2-inch pieces of drumsticks (You can find these dark-green, ridged stick-like veggies, already cut up into smaller lengths, in the freezer at your Indian store. Indian drumsticks have nothing to do with chicken-- they grow on tall trees and are named thus because they are long and slender like the drum sticks a drummer would use. Drumsticks have great flavor that is ethereal in a sambar, but parts of a drumstick are not edible. You chew on the cooked drumstick to extract the flavor from the flesh and seeds inside, and throw away the hard part.)
1 sprig curry leaves
8 large cloves of garlic, minced
For the masala:
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
15 black peppercorns
½ tsp fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
1 tbsp chana dal (Bengal gram dal)
1 tbsp udad dal (black gram dal)
2 dry red chillies
1 1-inch-diameter ball of tamarind (make sure there are no seeds hiding inside)
¼ cup coconut milk or 2 tbsp freshly grated coconut
Heat a skillet, spray it with some oil, and then toast the ingredients (except the coriander), one by one, until they are a couple of shades darker and aromatic. Cool in a plate and transfer to a blender along with the tamarind.
If you are using fresh coconut, toast it to a light brown shade. If you're using coconut milk, add it directly to the blender.
Place all the prepped veggies, including the onion, in a microwave-safe dish, ad ¼ cup of water, cover loosely and zap for about 10 minutes or until the pumpkin is very tender. Set aside. You can do this on a stove-top as well.
Blend the spices with enough water to make a smooth paste. Set aside.
Spray a saucepan with some oil and add the garlic and asafoetida. Saute, stirring, for 30 seconds to a minute. Don't let the garlic turn dark brown or burn.
Add the curry leaves and stir in. Now add the blended masala and let it come to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for five minutes.
Add the cooked vegetables and the cooked tuvar dal. Bring the mixture to a boil and then let it all cook on low heat, about 10 minutes, for the flavors to meld. Add water if the stew is too thick.