Pumpkin curry is one of my favorite Thai dishes. Typically it is made with canned pumpkin and full-fat coconut milk, however this recipe uses light coconut milk, which has about one-third of the calories and fat than regular coconut milk. The curry is not as rich as it would be using regular coconut milk, but this dish is very flavorful and healthier. Fresh pumpkin is also used, since it is autumn and pumpkins are in season and this makes for a great warm dish for the cooling autumn evenings. I find this dish filling on its own though you can serve it with rice as it is done in Thai restaurants.
I used Kabocha squash also known as Japanese pumpkin for this recipe. Kabocha pumpkins are green on the outside and typically weigh about 3 pounds. They are popular for their strong yet sweet flavor and moist, fluffy texture. You can easily substitute the orange pumpkin varieties that you find around Halloween. This curry recipe calls for 4 cups of pumpkin, skinned and cut into about 1 inch pieces. I used about 2/3 of the 3.5 Kabocha squash.
The first step in making this curry is to sauté the chicken for a couple of minutes – about one minute on each side. The chicken will be only partially cooked, as it will finish cooking in the curry sauce. I do this as it keeps the chicken tender. One pound of chicken tenders are cut into pieces, about 1/3 each. You can buy whole boneless and skinless chicken breasts and cut them into pieces, if you prefer, but the tenders are pre-cut which makes it quick and easy.
After you remove the chicken from the pot, you’re now ready to make the curry. To the pot with the reserved oil, add the garlic and ginger and sauté for one minute, then add the light coconut milk, Thai red curry paste, turmeric, lemongrass, sugar, Kaffir lime leaves and the fish sauce (use a light colored fish sauce as it is better quality) and bring to a simmer.
Then add chicken stock and mix through. Add the pumpkin and chicken and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 4 minutes so the flavors mesh and the chicken is cooked through.
Remove the lemongrass pieces and Kaffir lime leaves from the pot and add the vegetables. This recipe calls for mushrooms, Bok Choy and red bell peppers, but you can use any vegetables you want. Cover the pot and simmer for 4 more minutes until the vegetables are cooked through. Add the juice of the lime and mix through. Serve with chopped cilantro to garnish, and rice if you want a more filling meal.
Pumpkin Curry With Chicken
1 lb chicken tenders – cut tender into thirds
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cups Kabocha squash or orange pumpkin, skin removed and cut into 1 inch pieces (3.5 lbs about 2/3 of)
1/2 tablespoon grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 13.5 oz. can lite coconut milk
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
3 tablespoons of good quality fish sauce (such as Nam Pla or other light colored fish sauce)
1 tablespoons brown sugar
2 lemongrass stalks cut into 2 inch pieces
3 Kaffir lime leaves
½ teaspoon turmeric
¾ cup of chicken broth (I use low sodium)
8 oz. of white or crimini mushrooms cut in half or quarters, depending on size
1 bunch of Bok Choy (about 1/2 lb) cut into one-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into one-inch pieces
Juice of one lime
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro to garnish
Heat oil in a pot on medium-high flame until hot. Add chicken and fry for 1 minute on each side and remove from pan. To the pot, add garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute. Add coconut milk, Thai curry paste, turmeric, lemongrass, sugar, lime leaves and fish sauce to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the chicken stock and mix through. Add the squash to the pot along with the chicken and simmer covered for 4 minutes. Then remove lemongrass and lime leaves and add the mushrooms, Bok Choy and red pepper and cover simmer for 4 more minutes. Add the juice of the lime and mix through. Serve with chopped cilantro to garnish and rice if you want.