Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Squash and Tomato Curry with Lime and Coconut

I first ate this gorgeous curry at a friend's house and for weeks could not get the flavours out of my mind... hot, sour and sweet with depth and layers of flavour. Every curry I ate, I compared unfavourably to this one, too bland, too hot, too uniformly flavoured.

Based on a recipe from Skye Gyngell's "My Favourite Ingredients" this is a family favourite, full of zing and reasonably easy to prepare with half an hour on your hands. It feels like a spring dish - light and healthy but rich enough to keep out the chill that still hangs in the air.

Squash and Tomato Curry with Lime and Coconut
1 medium butternut (or other variety) squash
1tbsp vegetable oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 small hot green chillis, chopped (seeds left in)
10 curry leaves
1tsp mustard seeds
1tsp fennel seeds
2tbsp caster sugar
2tbsp fish sauce
Juice of 2 limes
15-20 little ripe tomatoes
340g tin peeled plum tomatoes
250ml coconut milk
A handful of fresh spinach leaves

Peel the squash, scoop out the seeds using a spoon, then slice into 5cm chunks and set aside.
Place a heavy-based pan over a medium heat.
Add the oil and the onion.
Lower the heat and saute for 10 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, chilli and curry leaves and continue to cook gently.
Next, warm a frying pan over a low heat, add the mustard and fennel seeds and cook until they begin to pop.
Remove from the heat and pound to a powder, using a pestle and mortar. Add to the onion, stir to combine and cook gently for a further five minutes.
Add the squash, stir again and cook for 10 minutes, then add the sugar, fish sauce and lime juice.
Taste and then once you feel the flavours are right (hot, sweet and sour - add a little more sugar and fish sauce if the flavour is too mild) add the little ripe tomatoes – squishing them slightly between your fingers as you do so, to help them release their flavour.
Add the tin of plum tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Pour in the coconut milk and cook for a final five minutes.
Throw in a large handful of spinach leaves just before serving to wilt gently in the sauce.
Serve with flatbreads.
This is ready to serve immediately but if allowed to cool down, it reheats beautifully as the sweetness and spices permeate the squash even more after resting.


  1. That does look very tempting. Just right when we've still got chilly evenings.