Squash is one of my favourite fall vegetables. I know it’s not fall, but I still like buying squash at the market. It is so versatile, and you can even use it in baking. My favourite way to eat it is in a curry. I can just eat a whole container of the curry if I had it in front of me. When I was in Sri Lanka in 2012, I volunteered for two weeks in a town that was affected by the 2004 tsunami through a local organization, called Volunteer Sri Lanka. If ever you do make your way to Sri Lanka, I highly recommend volunteering with this organization! It is run by a local, who lost his parents to the tsunami, and ever since, he has done philanthropic work over there, helping orphaned children and elderly, and there’s also medical placements! His large house served as the volunteer house, and for meals they often served squash curry for lunch. It was delicious!
Of course, I love my mom’s squash curry just as much, so I decided I would learn how to make it, similar to learning her lentils. Much like other vegetarian curries, it is vegan! I must warn you, it might be slightly time consuming, because it requires making a spice mix the first time you make it, but you make a batch and save the rest for the next time. It is definitely worth it!
- 1 acorn squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 onion
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- 12-15 curry leaves
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 2 cinnamon sticks (~2 inches)
- 4-5 dried chillies (optional)
- 1.5-2 cups water
- 1/3 cup coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk)
- 1/2 tsp agave (optional, if acorn squash isn’t naturally sweet)
- salt, to taste
- juice of half a lime
- 2 tbsp roasted spice mix (see below)
- 2-3 tbsp oil
Heat a pot with the oil on medium-high heat. Add the cinnamon sticks, garlic, onion, dried chillies, and curry leaves and sautee until the onions have picked up some colour and begun to caramelize.
Add the squash, turmeric, salt, and the water, increasing the heat to high (around the 7-8 setting). Start with 1.5 cups of water and cover, stirring occasionally, until the a lot of the water has reduced (about 20 minutes). If squash isn’t tender and soft add more water if necessary.
Once the squash starts to become tender and water reduced, stir in the coconut milk, the spice mix, and agave, and finish with the lime juice.
- 2 tbsp black peppercorn
- 1/4 cup rice (this is added as a thickening agent!)
- 1/4 cup cumin
- 3 tbsp black mustard seed
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Heat a frying pan on medium heat and add all ingredients. Dry roast (stirring often to prevent burning) until coconut has picked up colour and it starts becoming fragrant (about 5-10 minutes).
Add to a spice grinder or a dry jug of vitamix and grind to a powder. Store in a mason jar (either in the fridge or in your spice cabinet — my mom likes storing it in the fridge). Use whenever you make the squash curry!