Butternut Squash Coconut Curry

 in Kitchen

I could write an ode to the food in my life.
Instead, I offer haiku. 

it takes a seed and
the flower pollinating
an act of patience

the transformation 
cooked with fire and spices 
all is nurturing

Nik Jameson

I grew up with spices, more than the average white mid-westerner I would guess. Yet when I discovered the flavors of India I was more than impressed. My first introductions were cafeteria foods and even that sparked my interest. When I went to my first Indian restaurant I was overwhelmed by the choices and smells. Everything was so lovely I couldn’t wait to try more. 

Later when I found the names for the dishes and flavors I liked and the stores who could supply some basic spices I started to experiment myself. My dishes are far from the complexity and history stored in those of India but I am happy those spices have traveled so that I can create with them in my own way. 

I wish someday to learn even more about Indian food, and other world cuisines like Moroccan, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Thai and countless others. For now I continue to use the ingredients I have most available to create rich and satisfying dishes. 

Cooking Tips:
Most spices benefit from toasting, the spices in this recipe especially.
I usually do this on a hot skillet for 1-2 minutes before adding other ingredients. Be cautious that you don’t burn the spices. 

I love this recipe for meal planning because it’s a stew that tastes better day 2, and 3 and 4.  The best part, it tastes great over rice, or cauliflower, or barley or quinoa.

I recommend you add a squeeze of lime juice over the top to active the absorption of iron from the lentils and aid the flavor. 

This can be made with red lentils, split peas, yellow peas or any other small soft bean. Bush lentils and brown lentils are also delicious, but will not be as smooth and creamy. 

Butternut Squash Curry Recipe 

No there is no “curry” powder in my curry recipe because store bought blends are mostly turmeric anyway.

1 yellow pepper sweet or hot (sub for yellow onion)
1 inch piece of leek (sub for onion)
1 carrot 
1 small butternut squash 
1 can of full fat coconut milk 
2 cups of red lentils
1 liter of broth or water
½ turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon ginger powder 
¼ teaspoon dry sage (optional)
2 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro or chives (to top)

Toast the dried spices in a skillet 1-2 minutes and reserve for later. 
Saute the yellow pepper with the leek 2-3 minutes until becoming soft. 
Add cubed carrot and cubed butternut squash and saute another 2-3 minutes in a very hot pan. 

Reduce the head to medium and add the spices, as well as 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Saute 1 minute and then add the red lentils and 1 liter of broth (or water). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and simmer on medium-low for 15 minutes until the lentils are very soft. Add splashes of water as needed if drying out.

When completely cooked remove from heat and mix in the can of full fat coconut milk. Serve immediately over quinoa or other grain of choice, garnish with chopped cilantro or chives. 

Reheats well, store up to 1 week in the refrigerator. 

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