It’s officially fall here on the East Coast, which means it’s now squash season! This Kabocha Squash Curry is the perfect cold-weather meal. It’s healthy, hearty, and full of flavor.
First, a confession: most West Indians aren’t familiar with the term squash. In Jamaica, we call every squash a pumpkin. Seriously! Butternut squash? That’s pumpkin to a Jamaican. Acorn squash? Yup, that’s pumpkin too. Spaghetti Squash? This is not very common in Jamaica but we’d probably call it pumpkin. And of course the traditional Halloween pumpkin is called a pumpkin. It can get pretty confusing!
I remember one day after coming to the U.S., I was out grocery shopping with my mom and we were talking out loud, trying to figure out which of the items labelled “squash” was actually the West Indian pumpkin we were used to eating. A fellow shopper overheard our discussion and walked over to us, asking if we were Jamaicans. When we said yes, he said he knew we had to be because we were calling everything pumpkin. He told us he was from Trinidad and there, pumpkins are known as “calabaza” (which actually means pumpkin in Spanish!). We spent a few minutes laughing about how hard it was to find what we were looking for, since none of the items had the names were were used to seeing.
I share that story because it actually led to my discovery of kabocha squash. In an attempt to find our West Indian pumpkin, my mom bought every variety of squash she came across in American supermarkets. Through trial and error, we finally found our pumpkin (it’s the really big one that looks almost pink/green and has little white stripes and spots all over. Both of these distinctive features are usually no help because this kind of squash is normally sold cut and peeled!), but we also found out that we LOVE kabocha squash.
Kabocha squash has a dense, meaty texture that is very similar to a West Indian pumpkin, but it is much sweeter. Kabocha squash is now one of my favorite kinds of squash to eat, and it makes a perfect curry. I mean look at this beauty!
For this curry recipe, I combine the squash with coconut milk, West Indian yellow curry powder (i.e. spicy curry powder), and some additional spices that invoke the feeling of fall. To pull out the full flavor of the kabocha squash and keep its texture, I baked the squash first, then added it to the curry mixture.
Once everything cooked up, I added in some fresh spinach and served over rice. Since I don’t usually eat white rice, I *borrowed* some from my dad to take this picture 🙂 And since I used coconut milk, this recipe is vegan! But that doesn’t make it any less delicious or filling!
Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think by tagging #SweetandSorrel or by commenting below. Can’t wait to hear from you all!
- 1 small kabocha squash, with skin
- 1 (13.6 oz) can lite coconut milk
- 2 tbsp vegetable broth (plus more if needed)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp hot yellow curry powder
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 1 small sweet onion, chopped
- 1 small cooking tomato, chopped
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup Basmati rice (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Carefully cut kabocha squash into long 2 inch slices, then place on baking sheet and coat squash thoroughly with half of the olive oil. Bake for 18-20 minutes, turning halfway. The kabocha squash should be golden brown but not fully cooked. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a large saute pan, heat remaining olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and saute for 1 minute. Add tomato paste, curry powder, coriander, and cumin and stir until spices become fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add kabocha squash, coconut milk, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil then add thyme, chopped tomato, and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until mixture thickens and squash cooks to your desired firmness.
- Remove pan from heat and stir in spinach. Serve immediately over Basmati rice.