Kabocha Squash (also known as Asian pumpkins) have a dark green knobby outer peel and a very firm orange interior. When cooked, this starchy variety still remains quite firm almost like a sweet potato – which makes it perfect for curries! Kabocha squash is available all year round, especially in Asian grocery stores or markets.
Kabocha squash are loaded with beta-carotene, an important anti-oxidant. They are also a rich source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, iron & dietary fiber. Kabochas are also thought to play a role in preventing certain cancers and heart disease.
My simple Kabocha Squash Curry is an easy & delicious addition to any meal. Best of all, this dish can be enjoyed all year round. This curry can also be made using sugar pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash, ash gourd, winter melon or even sweet potatoes.
KABOCHA SQUASH CURRY
1-1½ lbs of Kabocha Squash
1 medium onion, finely diced
1” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
½ cup of freshly grated coconut
¼ tsp turmeric (haldi)
½ tsp red chili powder, to taste
½ tsp kala or goda masala (or you can use garam masala)
salt & pepper, to taste
½ tsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
5-6 fresh curry leaves
3-4 dried red chilies, to taste
pinch of asafetida
1-1½ cups coconut milk
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2+ tbsp oil (coconut, vegetable or canola)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
lightly toasted white sesame seeds for garnish
Trim and prepare the Kabocha Squash by peeling it first, then removing the seeds and cutting it into about 1½” size pieces. Then cook the Kabocha pieces in salted boiling water for about 10-12 minutes or until they are just fork tender. Alternatively, this can also be done in a steamer or a pressure cooker. Set aside until needed.
In a large deep skillet or wok on medium high heat, add 1 tbsp of oil. When hot, add the onion along with the ginger. Sauté until the onions are translucent and softened. Next, add in the grated coconut. Mix well & let cook for a few more minutes before adding in the spices (turmeric, red chili powder, kala masala, salt & pepper). Let the spices stir-fry for a few minutes before adding in the cooked Kabocha pieces along with the coconut milk & nutmeg. Bring the dish to a gentle boil, cover, reduce to a simmer and let cook for about 6-8 minutes or until all of the flavors come together. Transfer to a pretty serving bowl & set aside.
In a small saucepan on medium high heat, add the remaining tbsp of oil. When hot, carefully add the black mustard seeds and allow them to splatter. Then quickly add in the cumin seeds, curry leaves, dried red chilies and asafetida. Let sizzle for about 30 seconds and then very carefully, pour this entire hot oil mixture over the Kabocha curry. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves & toasted sesame seeds. Serve with warm phulkas & fragrant Basmati rice.
Feel free to add a cup or so of cooked chickpeas to the dish, just add them along with the Kabocha pieces when cooking.
You could also add your favorite vegetables to this dish such as potatoes/baby potatoes, mushrooms, edamame, baby corn, snow peas, sugar snap peas, spinach, chard, baby bok choy, baby kale greens or fresh green peas.