With the chilly weather, stews and curries are natural choices for the dinner table. For me, autumn squash is another fitting ingredient since it’s plentiful right now at the farmers market.

A squash I’m seeing a lot lately is the Japanese kabocha, which is like a little pumpkin but often in a forest green shell with ugly pock marks around the surface. My market, however, was selling an orange kabocha, which has a slighter sweeter flesh.

This curry dish was also my chance to try to eat healthier to make up for my recent donut obsession. So I loaded it with healthy green lentils and tofu. It turned out to be a hearty (and spicy because of the Panang curry paste I use) dish. Enjoy!

The finished dish will keep you warm this fall

Kabocha Curry with Green Lentils and Tofu Recipe
Makes 4 to 5 servings

Ingredients:
1 kabocha squash (about 2 lbs.), skin removed, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed and cleaned
1 package firm tofu, cubed
1 1/2 T Panang curry paste (2 T for more heat)
1 cup coconut milk
1 T Thai basil or regular basil, thinly sliced
1 t grated fresh ginger
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 T vegetable or Canola oil
1 T fish sauce

In a pot or large saucepan, warm oil over medium heat and add onion. Saute onion until translucent and soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Then add Panang curry paste and break into pieces and cook the paste until you can smell the curry fragrance, or for about a minute. Then add coconut milk and stir to blend the curry paste and dissolve it.

Add broth and bring to a boil, then add squash chunks and ginger. Reduce heat to simmer to cook squash. Add lentils about five minutes later. Continue cooking until the squash is fork tender and lentils soft, about 20 minutes (depending how big you cut the squash chunks, squash should be soft but not fall apart like mashed potatoes).

When squash is almost cooked, add the tofu and basil leaves and blend in. Season to taste with fish sauce and cook for another minute before removing from heat and serving in bowls with steamed rice.

TIP: To clean the lentils and help it cook faster, you can soak them overnight. Clean the water and rinse lentils, picking out any dirty bits, right before you cook them.

Panang shopping: The key to this curry is using a good paste. At my Asian grocery store, I like to buy the Thai brand Mae Ploy, which can be spicy if you use a lot of it. It’s sold as a paste and not a powder.

An orange kabocha squash is the star of this curry

Green lentils add a healthy spark to the curry, cooking with coconut milk (right)

Tofu for more healthy goodness

8 Responses to Warm Up with a Healthy Curry Dish

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    Kabocha is my fave squash. It’s outstanding in so many preparations, including this awesome-looking curry.

  2. hungry dog says:

    I actually have one of these from a CSA box a few weeks ago that I need to use up. Is peeling it hard? The skin looks pretty tough.

    • Ben Ben says:

      I don’t know if my method of peeling it is the best way, but what I did was use a big cleaver (or big kitchen knife) to slice down the middle to remove the seeds. Then I cut the squash into wedges. Placing the wedge on the side on the cutting board, I used my knife to cut off the skin a bit at a time, kind of like how you see chefs using a knife to cut away the skin of a grapefruit. Does that make sense? So I didn’t use a vegetable peeler, but the knife. The skin didn’t seem that thick, though, and I did it pretty quickly.

      • daniel says:

        Hi Ben, May I suggest an easier way to peel them? Simply steam or blanch the squash in hot water from 2 to 5 minutes depends on the size. The skin becomes soft and easy to be handled and the meat inside remains uncooked.

        • Ben Ben says:

          Nice tip, Daniel. Carolyn (who commented earlier) also gives an interesting tip on her blog when she also cooked with kabocha. She microwaved it for a couple of minutes and that softens the skin as well. I was kind of afraid of doing that because knowing me the kabocha would go kaboom in my microwave! LOL

  3. Sandy says:

    Mmmm, lots of my favorites in this dish, it sounds delicious with penang curry! You’re just missing kafir lime leaves, which I have so many they are going into the compost… I grew up eating kabocha and we just ate the skin, it is tender when done, if a little unsightly.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Mmmm, kafir lime leaves do sound nice. I have a hard time finding them, but I know lots of people can pick them off their trees in their backyard. Boo! I have no backyard. 🙁