Sri Lankan ‘White’ Pumpkin Curry

Queensland Blue

Queensland Blue

A combination of loving lots of Rick Stein’s recipes for their inventiveness and flavours; a large 4 to 5llb Queensland Blue Squash needing using up, some hungry book group friends and a love of Sri Lankan food gave me the perfect opportunity to make this truly tasty dish.

This recipe comes originally from the Sun House in Galle, Sri Lanka and is in Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey. Having visited Galle, but not having stayed at the Sun House (out of my league at the time, and probably now come to think about it) I couldn’t resist trying it. Over the years I’ve adapted  the original recipe and found that the Crown Prince, Queensland Blue, or Butternut squashes work well and with a few small changes to the original recipe has now become a firm favourite of ours. I’d describe it as a no fuss curry – it takes about 15 to 30 minutes to cook, uses only one pot, it has to be classed as quick and easy!

It’s essentially a very simple and quick dish, the only real effort is making the curry powder mix, but I tend to make a batch and then store it in a jar and have found it keeps well for a month or two.

When I read this recipe originally I thought the ‘White’ in the recipe title referred to the type of pumpkin, I even ended up trying to research white pumpkins…. but I eventually twigged (read the recipe properly) it refers to the spice mix, which is unroasted (i.e. not dry cooked before grinding)

Unroasted Sri Lankan Curry Powder

Ingredients –

  • 1tbsp uncooked long-grain or basmati rice
  • 50g coriander seeds
  • 25g fennel seeds
  • 7.5cm cinnamon stick
  • 1 ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp caramon seeds (from about 10 green pods)
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 3 dried Kashmiri chillies
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder

Method –

  1. Heat a small heavy based frying pan over a medium heat and add the uncooked rice and shake it around until it is a golden colour. Tip it into a small bowl and leave until it is cool.
  2. Mix the rice with the spices, except the turmeric and grind them until they form a powder
  3. Add the turmeric powder

Sri Lankan ‘White’ Pumpkin Curry

a few notes before we start cooking

The Queensland Blue Squash was perfect for this curry, it has a lovely firm texture, but any good squash or butternut with a similar firm texture would work, the only thing I would say for certain is that I’d avoid using the stringy types of squash. In the original recipe the skin of the pumpkin is left on, I tend to peel it off. The recipe calls for Pandan leaves, which I find difficult to buy here on the South coast, so if I’m ever in London I will pick up some and freeze them, or I simply leave them out of the recipe. I also add a generous squeeze of fresh lime or lemon – it gives it a bit of zing, and helps cut through the richness and sweetness of the coconut milk. The recipe calls for lots of chillies, Sri Lankan food is famously hot, now I don’t have the equivalent of an asbestos tongue/palette but find that the number of chillies used is OK, as the coconut milk seems to take any extreme heat out of the chillies.

Ingredients –

  • 750g piece of pumpkin or squash
  • 100g onions, halved and finely sliced
  • 15g garlic, finely chopped
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 4 x 2.5cm pieces of pandan leaf
  • 3 green cayenne chillies, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp Unroasted Sri Lankan Curry Powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 10g Maldive fish flakes or bonito flakes (optional – I leave these out for veggies)
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • ½ lemon or lime squeezed

Method –

  1. Scoop out and discard the seeds of the pumpkin/squash and cut it into 2.5 x 4cm chunks
  2. Put the pumpkin/squash pieces, the onion, garlic, curry leaves, chillies, curry powder, turmeric powder, fenugreek,  coconut milk (plus pandan leaf and fish flakes if using) into a large pan, add a pinch of salt.
  3. Bring the contents of the pan to a simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid, turn the heat down and leave to simmer gently for about 15 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender.
  4. If the sauce thickens up too much or you want more sauce add a small glass of water, stir and bring back up to heat.
  5. Before serving I add the lime/lemon juice
    Serve with rice or flat breads

And writing about this recipe reminds me I must dig out a couple of photos from that holiday, a magic holiday in a stunning country.


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