Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pumpkin, Cashew, and Coconut Curry

Every Monday night, my roommates and I have family dinner. The week we moved into our apartment, it started as a "pizza and beer at the place across the street" kind of thing. For whatever reason, we've begun to set the bar higher each week. Now we slow-cook things and buy red wine. Who are we?

Anyway, I decided to take advantage of both the week of drizzly fall weather and my Indian neighborhood market and decided to make curry. I got that sugar pumpkin in the CSA box two weeks ago, typed "pumpkin" into Epicurious, and found "pumpkin and cashew curry." It looked great, except for the fact that it called for a million ingredients, and the only ones --literally the only two I had in my possession-- were pumpkins and cashews. Eff that. I found an easier recipe in Sunset Magazine and ran with it. It still called for curry leaves (which I didn't know were even a thing), but I also discovered that Bharat Bazar is the place to go for 10-cent lemons and limes and 69-cent fresh samosas. 
Pumpkin, Cashew, and Coconut Curry
Adapted from Sunset Magazine via 
Serves 5 (or three people for dinner + three smaller lunches)

3-lb. sugar pumpkin, peeled and cut into small chunks (I did this the night before and kept it in a Ziploc)
1 tsp. salt, divided*
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1 onion, halved and cut into half-moons
1 green serrano chile, minced**
1-2 cinnamon sticks
20 fresh curry leaves (can substitute 6 dried bay leaves)
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin seeds (found at the Indian market-- and spicier than I expected!)
1 can (14.5 oz) light coconut milk
1 c. raw cashews
1 Tbsp. lemon juice (or the juice of 1/2 lemon)
Steamed basmati rice (I made 1 1/2 c. dry)

* I shook a little salt into the Ziploc of pumpkin, but didn't add salt to anything else. It definitely needed salt.
**I used a jalapeno from the CSA box because that was all I had... couldn't taste the difference because you cook most of the heat out of it

1. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. salt onto the pumpkin. Brown half the pumpkin in oil, turning once, around 8 to 10 minutes (or 12, if you have a weird stove like mine.) Pumpkin should get a little soft, but it will cook more in the simmering sauce. Reduce heat if pumpkin gets too dark. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with 1 more Tbsp. oil and the rest of the pumpkin. 
2. Heat the oven to 250 degrees F, and throw the 1/2 c. cashews on a cookie sheet while the onions are cooking to roast them a bit.
3. In another large nonstick frying, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. oil over medium heat. Cook onions until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer half to a separate bowl if you want to use it for topping. If you don't care (like me), then just leave it in the pan. Check the cashews and once they're fragrant and a light golden brown, take them out.

4. Add minced chile, cinnamon, and curry leaves to the sautéed onions. Cook, stirring often, until curry leaves are fragrant (about 2 minutes). 

5. Add turmeric, cumin, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and cook to toast spices (about 1 minute).
6. Return pumpkin to frying pan with onion and spices and add coconut milk. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5-10 minutes, until pumpkin is tender. Stir in cashews and lemon juice, and add more salt to taste. 
7. Serve on basmati rice and top with reserved onion... and if you're in the mood for something extra carby, add a piece of plain naan (or two). 

In case you're wondering-- yes, I did in fact eat this for breakfast with a cup of tea this morning. I woke up at 5:30am to run, so by the time I got back and got ready for work, it felt like lunchtime!

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