Warm up with a bowl of this Easy Pumpkin Curry ... this simple recipe is bursting with bold flavors that will have you licking your lips and going back for seconds!
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Fall is finally here, and that means it's pumpkin time!
I tend to think of pumpkin in terms of sweet treats, but it's equally delicious in savory dishes like curries and soups.
If you're looking for a unique way to enjoy pumpkin this season, you have to try this tasty Pumpkin Curry! This yummy curry is simple to make, yet full of bold, spicy flavors that you're sure to love.
About This Recipe
My first introduction to Pumpkin Coconut Curry was in San Francisco. We lived near a popular Thai restaurant, and although everything on the menu was delish, I always returned for that mouthwatering curry. Mmm!
Now that we live in Dallas, I don't get to enjoy that crave-worthy curry nearly as often. So when my sister took me to Plia's Kitchen on a recent trip to Green Bay, I knew exactly what I was ordering when I spotted squash curry on the menu. And when that bowl of rich coconut curry arrived, I was in heaven.
The fragrant curry was thick, rich, and super creamy, and the spicy red curry flavor was the perfect partner to the sweet squash. Each bite was better than the last and had me going back for more ... even after I was stuffed! I wasn't planning to wait another couple years before enjoying this wonderful meal, so I decided to create my own version.
This easy Red Pumpkin Curry is my take on this favorite dish. It's full of amazing flavors, yet so simple to make. And it's mildly spicy ... more likely to hit you in the back on the throat than burn your tongue, if you know what I mean.
Have you ever made a coconut curry before? It's actually much simpler than you'd think!
You can find most of the ingredients for this Thai Pumpkin Curry at your local grocery store:
- Extra Firm Tofu
- Fresh Ginger
- Red Curry Paste
- Vegetable Broth
- Coconut Milk
- Vegan Fish Sauce
- Lime Leaves
- Fresh Pumpkin
- Red Bell Pepper
- Thai Basil Leaves
What kind of pumpkin works for curry?
You can use pumpkin (the edible kind, not the jack o' lantern kind) or any variety of hard winter squash (except spaghetti squash) for this recipe. Squash is usually easier to find than pumpkin most times of year, so I like making this recipe with Butternut Squash. If you can find it, Kabocha Squash is what is traditionally used to make this dish.
Tip for Peeling Pumpkin / Squash: Use a sharp knife to cut the pumpkin or squash into halves or quarters, then remove the seeds with a spoon. Carefully slice off the skin, avoiding as much of the flesh as possible. Watch your fingers and be sure to work on a flat, stable surface.
This recipe calls for a number of ingredients typically found in Southeast Asian cooking. A stocked grocery store should have most of them. Red Curry Paste is a blend of spices like ginger, garlic, chiles, and lemongrass, and it is essential to this recipe. Coconut Milk is made from coconut pulp ... make sure to get full fat coconut milk, otherwise your curry won't be as thick and creamy (and don't confuse it with coconut water or coconut cream; they're totally different things). Fish Sauce is used to season this recipe. I used Vegan Fish Sauce (purchase it or use my easy recipe below), but if you're not vegan/ vegetarian, you can use regular fish sauce.
Thai Basil and Lime Leaves may be a little harder to find at your local store, but they're available in almost any Asian market. Lime Leaves come from the Makrut Lime and are sold dried or fresh (either is fine). Skip the leaves if you can't find them. Stop by you local Asian grocery store for Thai Basil, which has a different flavor than Italian Basil. Substitute regular basil if you can't find it.
How to Make Pumpkin Curry
Ready to get started? This Pumpkin Red Curry is simple and quick to make.
You'll prepare the tofu first, and I have a super quick method for draining it. Cut the block of tofu into three large slices (each about an inch-thick), then place the slices on a thick layer of paper towels (a clean dish towel works, too). Next, cut the tofu into smaller cubes (being careful not to slice into the paper towel).
Place another thick layer of paper towel over the tofu and press firmly. The paper towel will absorb the water quickly (use more towels if needed). This method only takes a couple minutes vs. the half hour plus of the traditional process.
Once the tofu is drained, you’ll saute it in a little oil until golden. (Make sure to use a large, deep skillet ... this Calphalon Pan is ideal.) It should take about 10 minutes in a hot pan. Set the tofu aside and sprinkle it with a little salt.
Making the Red Coconut Curry Sauce
When the tofu is done, return the pan to the burner and reduce the heat to medium.
Add a little extra oil, along with the garlic and ginger. Cooking, stirring constantly, just until the garlic is fragrant. It should take about 30 seconds.
Next, you'll add the red curry paste. Saute the curry paste with the garlic and ginger for a couple minutes (this will help wake up the flavors), then add a little vegetable broth. Stir the curry paste into the broth until smooth, then cook this mixture for about five minutes or until slightly thickened.
After the sauce has thickened, add the coconut milk, vegan fish sauce, brown sugar, and lime leaves. Mix everything together really well (don't worry if it separates a bit) and bring your red coconut curry sauce to a simmer.
Adding the Pumpkin
Once that luscious sauce is ready, you'll add the pumpkin (or squash), tofu, and red pepper. Simmer everything until tender ... it should take about 20 minutes.
As the curry simmers, stir frequently, and try to keep the veggies mostly submerged in the sauce. This will ensure the pumpkin cooks evenly. If the sauce gets too thick before the pumpkin is done, add a splash of broth to thin things out a bit.
When it's ready, the pumpkin should be tender, yet firm (not mushy). And a thick, creamy sauce should coat everything. At this point, try the sauce and season to taste with more vegan fish sauce, if necessary. Fish out those lime leaves, if you can find them, then stir in the basil.
Okay, are you hungry yet? Because it's time to eat, and just looking at these pictures has me licking my lips!
I like to serve this yummy vegan Pumpkin Curry over steamed rice. It's the perfect compliment to the bold curry flavors.
This squash curry comes together quickly, as perfect for busy weeknights as it is for lazy weekends. Give it a try tonight ... you're sure to love it just as much as I do!
I've also got lots of other delicious curry recipes for you! Here are a few of my faves:
- Chickpea Lentil Curry
- Easy Curried Corn Chowder with Coconut Milk
- Quick Coconut Curry with Chickpeas and Spinach
- Easy Chickpea Potato Curry
- Curried Veggie, Chickpea, and Quinoa Stir Fry
- Roasted Carrot Soup
- Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry
- 4 teaspoons cooking oil, divided
- 1 (14-ounce) package extra firm tofu, excess liquid removed and cubed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 2 generous tablespoons Red Curry Paste
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 (13.5-ounce) can Coconut Milk
- 1 tablespoon vegan fish sauce*
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar, lightly packed
- 3 Lime Leaves (dried or fresh)
- 3 cups cubed pumpkin (or other hard winter squash)
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cubed
- small handful thai basil leaves, thinly sliced
- Heat 2 teaspoons oil to a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add tofu and toss to coat with oil. Cook tofu until lightly browned on one side, then flip and cooked until browned on other side.
- Remove tofu from pan, then sprinkle with salt to taste. Set aside.
- Return pan to burner and reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Stir in garlic and ginger; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
- Add red curry paste to pan; cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.
- Stir broth into paste. Cook for 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
- Mix in coconut milk, vegan fish sauce, brown sugar, and lime leaves. Bring to a simmer.
- Stir pumpkin, red pepper, and tofu into coconut sauce. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until pumpkin is tender, stirring frequently.
- Taste and add additional vegan fish sauce to taste, if desired. Remove lime leaves. Mix in basil.
- Serve curry hot over rice. Enjoy!
What is your favorite fall meal?