A sure sign of a great dish for me is when I’m editing photos of it for a blog post I can’t wait to eat it again. That is the case for this Butternut Squash Curry. Like mouth watering ‘excuse me for a second’ while I have a serving now kind of ‘can’t wait’.
I have always loved curry. When I was growing up my mom would periodically make it I’m sure with something like chicken, nothing as exotic as squash. Probably my favorite part was the layering on of the condiments. Surrounding the steamy bowl of curry would be small bowls of raisins, peanuts, coconut, fried canned chow mien noodles, chutneys and I’m sure something else I’ve forgotten. I love the different flavors in every bite; tangy, vinegary, sweet, salty all against a backdrop of savory, spicy curry. After living in Asia during my adult life curry has definitely become one of my comfort foods of choice.
It’s taken me a long time to become friends with winter squash. Decades really. I don’t recall eating it as a child leaving me on my own as an adult to navigate the overly sweetening preparation methods that, paired with the already dense sweetness of the squash, were over the top for my palate. After a lot of liberally spaced trial and error I did warm up to Butternut Squash. If it were an acquaintance it’s gone from the type you want plenty of warning before they show up, needing to psyche up to endure their visit, to one who has a house key and you love it whenever they drop by. I’ve found my groove with Butternut Squash.
Despite my love for Butternut Squash I’m in a bit of a cooking rut, pretty routinely making it into soup but never sure whatever else to try. Having several on hand from my winter CSA share I pulled out an older stash of magazine recipes (that pile in the moment you are sure you’ll make next week and the next thing you know half a decade has passed). In this batch I found a recipe for Butternut Squash Curry. It seemed the perfect remedy for a cool autumn day looking toward snow.
With brown rice in the rice cooker and all the ingredients on hand requiring no shopping I set about whipping up the curry. Each of my children ambled into the kitchen and stopped in that way in a cartoon that is always paired with an over dramatic squealing of brakes hit too hard. ‘What are you making for dinner?’ (the ‘we-really-know-but-wish-we-didn’t’ tone in their voices was thinly disguised). I answered. The silent pause after my response was what I would imagine a vacuous space with all the air sucked out of it would sound like. ‘Will it have CHUNKS of squash?’; the original recipe did. ‘Would you rather it did NOT have chunks of squash?’ ‘Yes please’. And hence beginneth the process of adapting a recipe.
Candidly I have a bit of a texture issue so the idea of a pureed curry over rice was just fine with me. As friendly as I now feel with squash I admittedly have moments with pieces too big or too, well, too ‘squashy’ and I revert to the unconscious technique of eating disallowing the squash from touching my tongue in between the bite and swallow. The flavor of the curry was sublime; earthy, exotic and seasonally satisfying. I did add in my favorite condiments of unsweetened organic coconut, unsalted roasted peanuts and apple chutney I’d canned myself. It is a filling, warming dish brimming with flavor that is also healthy and easy to make. Hopefully you’ll agree!
The Best Butternut Squash Curry
- 2 medium-large Butternut Squashes; halved , peeled, seeded and cut into large chunks
- 1 large Yellow Onion , cut into chunks
- 4 Garlic cloves , peeled
- 3 cups plus 1 tablespoon Water
- 1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
- 1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
- 1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
- ¼ teaspoon ground Coriander
- 2 inch piece of Ginger , peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 1 teaspoons Kosher Salt
- ¼ teaspoon crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Garnish: chopped Cilantro and Lime Wedges
- Condiments: unsweetened grated Coconut , unsalted Roasted Peanuts, Chutney
- In a blender, puree the onion, garlic and 1 tablespoon water.
- In a large stock pot heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds, fennel seeds and coriander; cook 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the onion/garlic puree and the ginger. Cook, stirring often for about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste, 3 cups water, salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir or whisk to combine, scrapping any bits from the bottom of the pan into the mixture.
- Add the squash, bring to a boil, lower to low-medium simmer, partially covered until the squash is fully soft; about 45 minutes.
- Remove from heat and using an immersion/stick blender (or pour the mixture into a conventional blender in batches) fully puree the curry into a thick sauce. Serve over brown rice with garnishes and condiments for diners to adorn their plates!