Squash/ pumpkin isn’t used that often in Indian cuisine. They are some of my favourite vegetables, and I wanted to create a curry that showcases its versatility and ability to pair with Indian flavours and spices.
Perfect for: Vegans/ Vegetarians.
Reason for making: You want to make something vegetarian which looks like you’ve put a lot of effort into, yet barely took you an hour.
Time: 3/5 (total active time 1 hour)
Why it works:
Sweetness of the butternut squash goes perfectly with the earthiness of the chickpeas.
If using, toasted coconut
provides an unusual textural contrast.
Thickening power of the chickpeas and butternut squash create a sauce with amazing consistency.
Dry chickpeas produce a better dish, as the chickpeas are more tender and flavourful). However, canned work well too.
For the cooking fat, use coconut oil if you want to keep the dish vegan. Ideally, use ghee (clarified butter). If you don’t have this, you can use a mix of half butter/ half oil.
- 2 and a half cups of butternut squash, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 can of coconut milk, not shaken. Separate out cream and watery part
- 1 can of chick peas, drained (or ¾ cup dry chickpeas (see step 1)
- 10-15 curry leaves
- 3 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- Half a red chilli (membrane and seeds removed if you don’t like heat), finely chopped
- 1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 and a half tsp salt (or to taste)
- Cooking fat (see note)
- Small handful chopped coriander
- Juice from half a lemon, or to taste.
- ¾ cup desiccated coconut
- If using dry chickpeas, soak ¾ cup of chickpeas for a minimum of 12 hours in salted water (approx 1 tbsp of salt per 1.5 litres of water). Rinse and boil in approx. 3 litres of water for 1 and a half hours/ or until tender (should be able to squeeze it with your fingers). Adjust water amounts as necessary during cooking, so there is enough water for the chickpeas to boil in.
- Heat up a large sauce pan on medium/high heat. Add enough cooking fat so that the bottom is completely covered with a thin layer It may look a lot but it will help improve the flavour! Add the mustard seeds and the curry leaves and fry for 2 minutes until you can smell their wonderful fragrance.
- Add the spice powders, salt, garlic, chilli and ginger and fry for a minute. It’s important to prevent the garlic burning at this point so remove from the stove/ adjust heat as necessary. This is done to release the flavours of the spices into the oil, which is the vehicle for flavour.
- Add the coconut cream and fry for 5 minutes. This allows the cream to pick up all those wonderful flavours.
- Add the chickpeas and a mug of hot water (or cooking water from the chickpeas) and simmer for 15 minutes. Simmering the chickpeas in this step will make them even more tender and ensure they pick up all the lovely coconut spice sauce.
- Whilst the chickpeas are simmering, put the dessicated coconut in a dry frying pan on medium heat and toast until starts to go light brown, stirring often. The toasting makes it crunchy, and transforms the flavour of the coconut. Once toasted, set aside on a plate to cool, stirring occasionally.
- Add the squash, half of the coconut water and enough boiling water to just cover the curry. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender. It should still hold it’s shape but be soft enough so that it melts in your mouth!
- Add the remaining coconut water, and mash about a sixth of the curry with a masher/ back of your stirring spoon. This helps thicken the sauce and create a consistency that’s on point. Reduce to thicken if needed. Here, you have to use your intuition and determine when you think the sauce is perfect!
- Add the lemon juice (to taste) and coriander and test the curry. You want to check the salt is good and that you’re picking up the sweet flavour from the squash. If you feel like the squash isn’t sweet enough, add a tsp of sugar and taste again.
- That’s it! Serve with rice or an Indian bread, roti or paratha go awesome with this. Remember to sprinkle the toasted coconut on top!