Pumpkin curry is a popular dish in Sri Lanka with as many different versions as there are types of pumpkins. This recipe uses traditional ingredients with the addition of fresh peanuts, giving an extra nutty dimension, while the mustard powder enhances the sharp, hot flavours.
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 4 medium eschalots, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 3 cm piece ginger, finely sliced into slivers
- ⅓ cup curry leaves
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp hot chilli powder
- 1 tsp mustard powder (see Note)
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 650 g butternut squash, peeled, cut into medium-sized wedges
- 140 ml coconut milk
- 300 ml water
- 100 g fresh podded boiled peanuts (see Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Place a medium-sized saucepan over a gentle heat, warm and then add the ghee. Once the ghee has melted add your eschalots, garlic, ginger and curry leaves and gently cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season generously with salt and white pepper. You want all these ingredients to be softened as opposed to fried.
Add the mustard seeds and give them a few minutes in the pan before adding the remaining spices and powders. You will need to stir more ardently here as they spices will stick to the base of the pan. Give them a few minutes to become aromatic and toasty before adding the pumpkin. Stir for a few minutes or so to coat the pumpkin in all the lovely pan flavours. I would add an extra little bit of salt at this stage. Add the coconut milk and water and, as soon as it all begins to simmer, add the peanuts.
Now all that’s needed is the occasional stir as you let the pumpkin simmer away gently for 15–20 minutes. You want to cook it to the stage that it is nicely yielding but before it becomes too mushy. Serve immediately as a side dish or as a simple meal with a bowl of rice.
• Fresh-boiled peanuts can be found in select Asian grocers. If they prove to be elusive you can use roasted ones, instead, but add them in at the same time as you add the pumpkin. I used a Japanese mustard powder that can easily be found in an Asian supermarket.
Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel.