“Choose your own” butternut squash curry to feed a picky crowd

The diverse predilections and disinclinations regarding food within my family have practically ousted one-pot meals from our table. In the case of curries, there is my elder son who loves a curry sauce and insists on a little chili-based heat but refuses to eat any vegetables. My little one will heavily complain about any level of spiciness but will happily ladle chickpeas into his little mouth as long as they are accompanied by a silky smooth sauce without any bits in them. My husband prefers to avoid chicken. So I usually end up making a curry base, pureeing it in the blender and serving it with separately fried vegetables, meat, and some chopped chilies for everyone to choose their own meal.

Today I managed the situation a little differently, cooking large chunks of butternut squash in a sauce which can easily be spooned out separately. I also resorted to the South Indian technique of “seasoning”, where dried chilies and black mustard seeds are fried in a little clarified butter and added to the dish shortly before serving. I also offered washed baby spinach leaves and chopped green coriander for topping. This is a really quick meal, I took no more than 25minutes to put it on the table.


Ingredients for the curry: 1 small butternut squash (800g), a small can of boiled chickpeas (200g), 1 red pepper, 2 medium tomatoes, 1 onion, 2 garlic cloves, a thumb-size piece of ginger, 1 tbsp clarified butter, 2 tsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/3 tsp turmeric, 1/3 tsp fenugreek seeds, 1 can of coconut cream (200ml),1 tsp salt

 Ingredients for the seasoning: 1tbsp clarified butter, 1 tsp black coriander seeds, dried red chilies to taste

 to serve: basmati rice, a small bunch of chopped green coriander, washed baby spinach leaves


  1.  Start by washing the rice. Add to a pan together with 1.5 times the amount of water and a tsp of salt. Bring to boil, then lower the heat and let cook for 20 min. Alternatively, use your preferred cooking method.
  2. If using whole spices, roast them in a dry pan until they become fragrant, then grind in a spice grinder or using a pestle and mortar.
  3.  Chop the onion, garlic and ginger, then sauté in the clarified butter for five minutes.
  4.  Add the spices, stir, then add the coconut cream and bring to the boil.
  5.  Chop the red pepper and tomates, add to the sauce ingredients and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.
  6.  Meanwhile, peel and chop the butternut squash into inch-size cubes.
  7.  When the sauce is ready, purée in a blender (if you do not have to handle picky eaters, you can omit this step).
  8.  Put the sauce back to the heat. Add the butternut squash and bring to a vigorous boil, then cover, lower the heat and cook for five minutes.
  9.  Add the chickpeas and cook for another two minutes until heated through or until the butternut squash is just tender.
  10.  In a separate pan, melt a spoonful of clarified butter, add the dried chilies (slit) and fry for a minute, then add the black mustard seeds. Fry until the seeds sputter.
  11.  Serve the curry on basmati rice, topped with the baby spinach leaves, chopped coriander and the seasoning.



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