Meera Sodha's Pumpkin Malai Curry

Meera Sodha's vegan pumpkin and coconut curry is a flavour-packed recipe that's perfect for using autumnal produce.

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Introduction

Once upon a time, pumpkins were the preserve of fairy tales and Halloween. They were admired for their ability to make great props, not for their ability to make great dishes. Today, things are different.

Varieties such as Crown Prince and Delica grace farmers’ markets, and their nutty, honey flavours make them a powerful weapon for the home cook. I have loosely based this recipe on the Bengali malai kari, a dish made with sweet onions, garam masala and rich coconut milk. Warming, hearty and sharpened with a little lime for freshness, it’s best eaten with rice or scooped on to the softest naan you can find.

Note: If you can’t get hold of a good pumpkin, use butternut squash.

Serves 4 as a main

Ingredients

1.2kg pumpkin, such as Delica
rapeseed oil
salt
2 large red onions, finely chopped
2cm ginger, peeled and finely grated
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
200ml tomato passata
2 tsp ground cumin
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
1¾ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp caster sugar
600ml coconut milk (1½ tins)
1 lime, cut into wedges
optional: toasted flaked almonds or fresh coriander, to serve

Instructions

Preheat theoven to180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas 6 and line two baking trays with baking paper or foil.

Without peeling, cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out and discard the seeds, and cut the flesh into thin crescents, no more than 2cm wide. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with a big pinch of salt, then pop them on the trays in one layer. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, turning the pumpkin halfway through, until tender and blackening at the edges.

Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a deep frying pan over a medium flame and, when hot, add the onions. Cook for 15 minutes until really soft, then add the ginger and garlic. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the tomato and cook for a further 6 minutes, until rich and paste-like.

Add 1½ teaspoons of salt, the spices and the teaspoon of sugar, stir to mix, then add the coconut milk. Mix well and heat through until it’s thick and bubbling. Taste, squeeze in a little lime and taste again, adjusting the salt, sugar or lime juice as you wish.

To serve, pour the sauce on to each plate, and top with a few wedges of pumpkin. Sprinkle over some toasted almonds or fresh coriander if you like, and serve with naan bread or rice.

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