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Pumpkin Tikka Masala with Flatbreads

This fragrant, freezer-friendly curry will transform your glut of autumnal pumpkins into a wonderfully warming dish.

From the book


By the end of winter, the mice cotton on to the stores of squash and pumpkin in the shed and, with their own sources of food now woefully lacking, they begin night-time raids on what’s left of my stash. It’s hard to begrudge them a meal in this lean time; the nights are raw and a frost encrusts the coldframe most mornings. But I bring the bigger squash in for cooking before the mice descend. It would be a shame to lose a whole 2kg pumpkin to a single mouse nibbling one corner.

I batch-cook much of the remaining harvest, making this tikka masala-style curry because it freezes beautifully. In fact, like so many curries, freezing actually improves the flavour. If you do choose to freeze it, leave the skin on the squash or pumpkin, or it will disintegrate with the effort of defrosting and reheating.

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1 pumpkin or winter squash (about 1kg when whole)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp garam masala
For the sauce:
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
20g fresh ginger, roughly chopped
2 fat garlic cloves, roughly chopped
½ red chilli (leave the seeds out if you prefer a milder curry), roughly chopped
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp ground turmeric
100g cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp tomato purée
400g tin coconut milk
20g ground almonds
½ tbsp mango chutney
For the flatbreads:
120g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
120g strong white bread flour
3g fast-action dried yeast
A pinch of sea salt
150ml lukewarm water
To finish and serve:
2 tbsp toasted flaked almonds
2 tbsp coriander leaves
4 tbsp natural yogurt

Essential kit

You will need: a griddle or frying pan.


Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7.

Halve the squash and deseed it. There’s no need to peel it – the skin will add texture, colour and flavour. (However, if you really object to the skin you can, of course, peel it. In which case, add 10 minutes to the roasting time below so the squash is very crispy. This will stop it disintegrating so much in the sauce.) Cut the squash into 3cm chunks and put it in a bowl. Drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle in the garam masala and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat each piece of squash in the oil and spice, then arrange in a single layer on a large baking tray. Roast for 40 minutes, turning over halfway through, until the chunks are soft in the middle and charred at the edges.

Meanwhile, for the sauce, set a large, deep frying pan over a medium-high heat and pour in 1 tablespoon of the sunflower oil. Add the onion and fry for 5–8 minutes, stirring regularly, until golden.

Tip the ginger, garlic and chilli into a herb chopper or the small box of a food processor with the remaining oil and a pinch of salt. Whizz to a paste. Add this paste to the onion pan, then reduce the heat to low and cook gently for 3–5 minutes.

While the paste sweats, toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a separate dry frying pan over a medium heat for 2–3 minutes, or until they smell fragrant, then crush them to a coarse powder in a pestle and mortar. Add them to the onion pan, along with the ground coriander, paprika, turmeric and a large pinch of salt.

Add the tomatoes and tomato purée and cook for 2–3 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and ground almonds. Bring to a gentle simmer and bubble, uncovered, for 10 minutes so it can thicken slightly, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

By now the squash will be ready, so tip it into the curry sauce, stir in the mango chutney and check the seasoning. Remove from the heat, leave the curry to cool and then refrigerate overnight. This will totally transform it, giving the spices time to mingle and the flavours time to develop.

The next day, make the flatbreads. Start by making the dough. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl to make a soft dough and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. You can do this in a freestanding mixer with a dough hook if you like. Cover with a shower cap or clingfilm and leave to rise somewhere warm, like an airing cupboard, for an hour.

When the dough is ready, heat a griddle pan or frying pan over a high heat until smoking hot. Take the risen dough and, with a little dusting of flour to prevent sticking, pull off a walnut-sized piece, then press it out into a flat circle. It needs to be really thin and of an even thickness (which should be around 4–5mm), so gently pull and retch the dough like a pizza base. Shake off any excess flour and place the flatbread into the hot griddle/frying pan to cook for around 3 minutes on each side. The flatbread should puff up a little and be charred in places. Remove to a plate. Repeat until all the dough is used up – I usually get 4–5 small flatbreads from this dough.

Warm the curry through in a pan over a low heat until hot, then top with the flaked almonds and coriander leaves. Serve each portion with a dollop of yogurt and a flatbread.

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