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Butternut Squash & Coconut Curry

Updated: Oct 4, 2021

by Farokh Talati from Chefs at Home: Delicious Family Recipes from the UK’s Leading Locked Down Chefs (Jon Croft Editions)

Photography © Kris Kirkham

Parsis are not known for their love of vegetables, so I wanted to create a dish that had all the signature ingredients and flavours of Parsi cooking and also celebrated a much- loved and widely available vegetable, the humble butternut squash. It is sweet, delicious and holds its own alongside the fiery spices and the flavours of coconut.

Serves 4


2 tablespoons vegetable oil 40g creamed coconut

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander 30g desiccated coconut

10 curry leaves

1 x 400g tin of full-fat coconut milk

1 large ripe tomato, diced small

1 tablespoon hot chilli powder

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 teaspoons salt

500g squash or pumpkin, peeled, deseeded

and cut into 2–3cm dice

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon jaggery (use a cheese grater to shave off the amount you need)

1 large pinch of saffron

cooked rice or warmed roti, to serve


Heat the oil and creamed coconut on a low heat in a wok, crushing the coconut cream with the back of a spoon. Once the fats have melted, add the cumin and coriander powder and the desiccated coconut and gently fry for 5 minutes, still on a low heat, allowing the coconut to gently brown and become intensely fragrant. Add the curry leaves and allow them to pop and sizzle in the heat for 30 seconds.

Add the coconut milk, then fill the empty tin halfway up with water and add that to the pot too (about 200ml of water). Add the tomato, chilli powder, turmeric, salt and pumpkin or squash. Bring the liquid to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, until the pumpkin or squash is soft through (use the tip of a small knife to give it a poke).

Add the vinegar, jaggery and saffron and stir everything through until the jaggery has dissolved into the sauce. Serve with cooked rice or warmed roti.

Chef’s notes...

Jaggery has a unique taste to it that’s hard to replicate with anything else, but if necessary you could use 1 teaspoon of caster sugar instead, which will bring out the sweetness.

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