When the season for pumpkins arrives the question with what to do with them other than make Jack O’ Lanterns is a good one. The large ones lose their flavour somewhat and are only good for carving but the small culinary ones are sweet with a nice depth of flavour. It is these pumpkins that you need to look out for in order to turn them into a gastronomic delight like this pumpkin curry.
These root vegetables can give many well-loved dishes an autumnal feel and it only takes a little bit of pumpkin to do the job.
Take a pumpkin curry, for example, you can make it Indian, Thai or even North African. There are literally thousands of curries that can benefit from the sweet addition of a smooth pumpkin. However, with a totally plant-based diet, one thing very important to remember above all is the texture of the finished product, not just the flavour.
Pumpkins need to be cooked so that they do not become mushy, especially in a curry. With our best ever Indian pumpkin curry we use easy flash-fried pumpkin to brown and glaze the vegetable which is then roasted to give it the best texture. We then add this with spinach and yellow split peas (chana dhal) cooked in coconut milk to create a curry that has a great authentic depth of flavour with textures that are soft and bouncy and firm and slightly crunchy all in one dish. This is an amazing, simple vegan curry to prepare that is great to serve as a side dish or as the star of the show served with some rice, flatbreads and chutneys.
Pumpkins have a slightly doughy texture when cooked and when they are added to an aromatic curry sauce much of their texture sops up the flavours around them. This nature is perfect for a curry. You just need the right sauce which in this case is made with a few simple aromatic seeds and spices mixed with a few easy to buy ready mixed spice mixes. This variety of spices is easy to experiment with but the technique and timings of cooking the three ingredients are just as simple.
Inspiration for our pumpkin curry
The inspiration for this particular pumpkin curry comes from an amalgamation of curries. First of all, one of our very favourite mixes is sag aloo, potato and spinach. This is one of the greatest combinations in Indian cooking and a classic curry. If you want to introduce pumpkins into a classic dish then it is quite probable that you would start with a potato dish and substitute them with said pumpkin. Of course, you can’t substitute pumpkins for potatoes if you need to have the starch content of the potato, just simply add them too. The next step was to see where pumpkins sit in the curry world already and the overwhelming popularity is to have a pumpkin yellow curry which is a spicy coconut curry from Thailand. This combination of textures really cooperate well together so perhaps we thought that a pumpkin sag aloo made with coconut milk would work really well. This of course just at this point does work really well for a curry. You could then add other vegetables such as eggplant/ aubergine, cauliflower, mushrooms or okra for example to give it another dimension, but are you then still calling this curry a pumpkin curry or a vegetable curry where pumpkin is just another component? The answer lies with another ingredient which adds a texture and chana dahl (yellow split peas) was the choice. These wonderful lentils add such a unique flavour and texture that doesn’t overpower the pumpkin but rather complement it and the spinach perfectly. They add a somewhat nutty taste and texture too that gives the whole dish another dimension too that stops it becoming a bit samey. These lentils are prevalent in Indian cuisine too and often are paired with spinach with spicy spinach dahls being a superb addition to a feast dipped into by generous amounts of flatbreads and chutneys.
To make this pumpkin curry just follow some very simple steps
- Wash your yellow split peas (chana dhal) in a few changes of cold water and leave to soak for 25 minutes.
- Drain the yellow split peas and put in a pan of mixed water and coconut milk and bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes.
- Fry some of your choice spices in a pan of vegetable oil. We have used mustard seed, cumin seeds and fennel seeds. Then add some diced onion, garlic and ginger and your chopped pumpkin and brown for a couple of minutes.
- Add chopped frozen or fresh spinach and stir in along with some choice spices such as garam masala, chilli and turmeric. Then transfer to a roasting pan and put in the oven until the split peas are cooked.
- Combine the pumpkin and spinach mix together with the split peas in with the coconut milk and simmer together for 5 minutes to make the curry.
Healthy curry recipes
Making plant-based curries is a healthy way of adding nutrient-rich and antioxidant vegetables to your diet. Adding spices such as garlic and turmeric which have been used in ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years also have incredible health benefits for you too as these spices are loaded with antioxidants which act as inflammatories and help stave off chronic disease. Adding more pulses, grains and vegetables included in this recipe is recommended by Cancer Research UK to help maintain a healthy anti-cancer diet.
Other healthy curry recipes on the blog
VEGETABLE KORMA RECIPE (EASY + VEGAN)
KATSU CURRY RECIPE (VEGAN)
THAI GREEN CURRY PASTE RECIPE (VEGAN + AUTHENTIC)
Have you made our Indian pumpkin curry recipe?
- 2 cup of chopped pumpkin or half of a small pumpkin chopped into cubes
- ½ a cup or 100g of chana dhal, yellow split peas
- 2 cups or 120g of frozen or fresh chopped spinach, tightly packed
- 1 ¼ cups or 300ml of coconut milk
- ½ a cup or 125ml of vegetable stock
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2.5cm of grated ginger
- ½ a teaspoon of garam masala
- ½ a teaspoon of coriander/cilantro
- ½ a teaspoon of turmeric
- ¼ of a teaspoon of chili powder
- ½ a teaspoon of fennel seeds
- ½ a teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ a teaspoon of cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
Wash the chana dhal in several changes of cold water and soak in plenty of water for 25 minutes.
Drain the chana dhal and place in a pan and add the vegetable stock and coconut milk and simmer for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the mustard, fennel and cumin seeds until they begin to splutter
Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and fry for 4-5 minutes. Add the pumpkin and fry until slightly browned. Add the chopped spinach and cook for a further 5 minutes. Place in an oven at 200℃/392°F for 15 minutes.
Take the pumpkin mix out of the oven and combine with the chana dhal and coconut milk in a pan and add the garam masala, chili, coriander/cilantro and turmeric and stir to incorporate for 2-3 minutes. Serve with flatbreads and chutneys.
Step-by-step pumpkin curry