January 01, 2011

Vegetable Curry with Winter Squash

This post features the second dish I made for our supper on Christmas day, to accompany Lamb Curry with Apricots.  As I noted when posting about the lamb curry, when making a curry dinner, I usually like to make two dishes:  One featuring meat, poultry or seafood plus a vegetarian curry.  In designing the second dish, I decided to come up with something that would feature red kuri squash.

The kuri is a thick-skinned winter squash with a bold red-orange color.  It looks something like a small, red pumpkin, but without the ridges.  Beneath the skin is the delicious, bright orange flesh. 

Kuri is our very favorite type of squash.   Its sweet, nutty flavor beats out even butternut, and you can use it for just about anything you might use any other type of squash for.  Soups, stews, stir-fries, casseroles, breads... even pies.   It's also ideal for stuffing. 

I decided that rather than make a dish featuring nothing but the kuri, I would make it the centerpiece of a curry including tomatoes, peas, chickpeas and coconut milk, while keeping the amounts of each other ingredient modest, to make sure the kuri would take center stage.   I'd have to say I succeeded.

The dish was sweet and tasty, with a slight undercurrent of heat provided by some chili powder and a single, medium-hot Serrano pepper.  The cubes of kuri squash were firm, yet tender, and the bit of acidic undertone provided by the tomato provided a nice counterpoint to the nutty-sweet squash.  This curry stood well on its own merits, and went along well with the lamb and fruit curry I'd paired it with.

We haven't noticed any kuri in the stores lately, and we have only a couple left from the several we bought at the end of farmer's market season.   I'm not sure yet what we'll use them for, but a second batch of this curry is a fairly good bet.

Vegetable Curry with Winter Squash

yield = 6 servings

2         tablespoons vegetable oil
1         large onion, chopped fine
1         Serrano chili, seeded and minced fine
1         tablespoon peeled, minced ginger
2         teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2   teaspoons chili powder
1         teaspoon ground cumin
1/2      teaspoon coriander powder
1/2      teaspoon black mustard seed
1         kuri squash, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1         15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2      15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4      teaspoon salt
1         cup coconut milk
1         cup frozen peas, thawed
2         tablespoons chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and cook 2 minutes.  Stir in Serrano chili and cook, stirring often, until the onion starts to brown.  Add ginger and garlilc and cook 1 minute or until fragrant. 

Stir in chili powder, cumin, coriander and mustard seed and cook until fragrant.  Add squash and stir-fry 2 minutes.  Stir in chickpeas, tomatoes and salt and cook 3 minutes, then stir in coconut and 1 cup water.   Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cook 30 minutes. 

Stir in peas, cook 5 minutes, then transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

In place of a kuri squash, you can use another sort of winter squash.  A small butternut squash would work well in this recipe.


  1. This was wonderful! I made it last night with a medium sized butternut squash, and everyone really loved it. Only made a few modifications- didn't have any chili peppers on hand so I upped the chili powder and I probably upped it about 1.5x to feed a very hungry five people as the main course. I only have a little bit left for my lunch today! I loved the spice combo.

  2. We're glad to hear you liked the recipe so much, Emily! While it's unfortunate you don't have much leftover for lunches (we rely on leftovers to get by during the work week), we're pleased the dish was such a hit.

    Sounds like your modifications worked out well. We love butternut squash too, of course... but at the same time, we hope you try the recipe again sometime using red kuri.

  3. I would love to try it with the red kuri - don't think I've ever seen one before but I will definitely keep my eye out for it!