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Chai Time: Butternut Squash Curry

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butternut squash curry

In last week's Chai Time on IGVT, Meherwan broke down his go-to recipe for one of the classics—Butternut Squash Curry A.K.A. the fundamentals for cooking a really good Indian sauce/curry/gravy. A delicious vegan dish of diced squash simmered in coconut milk with mustard seeds, turmeric, curry leaves, fresh ginger, ginger-garlic paste, onions, and crushed tomatoes. There's a debate on whether or not we featured this dish for one of our first Chai Time episodes? #mandelaeffect 🤔 No video evidence currently exists, so consider this pt. 2 featuring blanched green beans to mix things up. 

Click here to watch Meherwan make this Butternut Squash Curry!

Butternut Squash Curry

Yield: 3-4 servings
Time: 30 minutes


3 Tbs neutral oil (we used grapeseed oil)
1 tsp Spicewalla brown mustard seed
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and fine diced
3-4 fresh or dried curry leaves (optional)
1/2 tsp hing/asafoetida (optional)
1 1/2 Tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 cups red onion, medium-small diced
1 tsp Spicewalla ground turmeric
2 cups canned (or boxed) crushed tomatoes
1 pound (approx) butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and large diced
13 oz can whole coconut milk (about 1.75 cups)
1 cup vegetable/chicken broth (or water)
2 cups cut green beans (optional)
Kosher salt to taste
Cilantro for garnish (optional)


Ginger-Garlic Paste: Blend equal amounts of peeled garlic and peeled fresh ginger (1/4 cup of each) into a coarse paste in a food processor - a few drops of oil will help it blend smoothly. Will keep refrigerated in a glass jar for at least a month. (If you don’t have a food processor, finely grate or mince a tablespoon each of ginger and garlic and mix together). This stuff is gold - it makes a great base rub on chicken, fish and meats! 

  1. Heat the oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add a few mustard seeds to the oil, if they start to wiggle and pop, your oil is ready for tempering. Add the rest of the mustard seeds, curry leaves and hing (if using) and turn the heat down to medium so the spices don’t burn. The mustard seeds will start popping in the oil so you may choose to place a lid over the pot for about 30 secs or so. Make sure the oil is hot enough that the mustard seeds actually start to pop, otherwise they’re not flavoring the oil!
  2. When mustard seeds stop popping, bring the heat back to medium-high and add the fresh ginger and saute while stirring for about 1 minute. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry in the oil until starting to brown, about a minute.
  3. Add onions to the pot along with a healthy pinch of kosher salt and saute, stirring frequently until deep golden brown, about 7-8 minutes, adjusting the heat down as needed in the last few minutes to prevent burning. This is one of the key steps - the onions need to caramelize in order to really develop flavor, so don’t rush it.
  4. Stir in ground turmeric and crushed tomatoes, simmer on medium while stirring frequently until thickened and glossy, about 5-7 minutes. This is another key step - you can tell the crushed tomatoes are fully cooked when they’ve darkened in color and oil is starting to separate around the edges of the pot.
  5. Add butternut squash to the tomato mixture and stir to coat, about a minute. Pour in coconut milk and stock, stir to incorporate. Bring to a simmer then turn the heat down to medium-low, cover the pot with a lid, and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the squash is fork-tender. If using green beans add about 10 minutes in. If the curry is too thick, add a splash of hot water. The curry should be the consistency of a bisque.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Serve immediately and enjoy! It’s wonderful over basmati rice, or on it’s own with a hunk of buttered crusty bread for dunking.

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