Red Pumpkin Curry
Thai red pumpkin curry is one of my favorite meals ever. If you’ve been following my recipes, you know how much I love Thai food. Red pumpkin curry is a quick and easy weeknight meal that’s gluten-free, plant-based, and comes together in one pot. It’s full of flavor and feels so hearty. You can add additional protein if you like, but I promise you won’t miss the meat!
What is Thai Curry?
There are curries all over the world, but Thai curry is made with curry paste, coconut milk, meat or vegetables, and fresh herbs. Curries in Thailand often use fresh herbs for flavor instead of spices. Thai curry paste contains shallots, garlic, galangal (similar to ginger), lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, chilies, and in the case of yellow curry paste, turmeric, plus other fragrant spices. Red, green, and Panang curry paste usually contain shrimp paste, so keep that in mind for allergies. I don’t claim this recipe to be authentic, but I do think it’s a great representation of the flavors found in Thai food.
How to Make Red Pumpkin Curry
This is a flavorful one-pot recipe that comes together in about 30 minutes.
Ingredients you’ll need
- Pumpkin. I opted for kabocha squash here because it has a really nice, potato-like texture. If you can find a Thai pumpkin, use that! You can also swap in butternut squash or cooking pumpkin. Kabocha is known as the Japanese pumpkin and it’s readily available.
- Curry paste. Because this is a red curry, use a red or panang curry paste. My favorite brand is Mae Ploy and you can find it in the Asian section of most grocery stores. Keep in mind that both red and panang curry paste have shrimp paste in them.
- Coconut milk. You can find coconut milk in the Asian section of your grocery store. Make sure that it’s unsweetened and definitely go for the full-fat version for best results.
- Veggies. For a classic, restaurant-style pumpkin curry, I used onion, red and green bell pepper, and Thai chilies. You can swap in serrano or jalapeño if that’s easier to find or throw in your favorite veggies.
- Kaffir lime leaves. These are an absolute must for this recipe! Kaffir lime leaves add so much flavor. Check the product section of your local Asian market.
- Palm sugar. Palm sugar gives the pumpkin curry the perfect touch of sweetness. You can find it on amazon or in any Asian market. You can also swap in brown sugar if necessary.
Selecting the right pumpkin for pumpkin curry
Kabocha squash is a variety of Japanese pumpkin or winter squash. It has a potato-like texture that’s perfect for this recipe. I used kabocha squash because I love the flavor and texture and it’s readily available. Kabocha isn’t strictly authentic for this recipe and you should definitely use a Thai pumpkin if you can find it. You can also swap in butternut squash, red kuri squash, or cooking pumpkins.
Making vegan red pumpkin curry
You can easily make this Thai red pumpkin curry vegan! First, you’ll want to make sure that you’re using a vegan curry paste. Second, opt for a vegan “fish” sauce or omit it altogether. That’s it! I love plant-based meals but I don’t adhere to strict dietary restrictions and so I often use some seafood-derived products for traditional flavor. You do whatever works for you!
Adding protein to red pumpkin curry
We try and eat vegetarian at least 2-3 times a week and so I welcome meals without additional protein. That being said, you could easily add your favorite to bulk up the pumpkin curry. Chicken, pork, or even tofu would all be great additions here.
Other Thai-Inspired Recipes to Try
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Red Pumpkin Curry
- 1 kabocha squash see notes above
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 2-3 tablespoons of red or panang curry paste
- 2 15 oz cans full-fat coconut milk
- 1 1/2 oz palm sugar or 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 4 large kaffir lime leaves
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons corn starch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water slurry
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 Thai chilies thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper sliced
- 1 green bell pepper sliced
- Thai basil leaves
- Steamed jasmine rice for serving
- Chili oil for serving
- Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Cut the kabocha squash in half and scoop out the seeds using a spoon. Cut the squash into wedges and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, until just tender. Cool for 15 minutes and then peel the skin off or use a small paring knife to remove the skin.
- Heat a dutch oven or braiser over medium heat and add the remaining olive oil. Add the curry paste and kaffir lime leaves and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the curry paste is very fragrant. Add the Thai chilies and coconut milk and stir until very smooth. Bring to a simmer and the fish sauce and palm sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the cornstarch mixture to the curry and stir well. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so, until very thick. Add the onion and bell peppers and Thai basil leaves, stir and cover for 5 minutes. Once the vegetables are tender, add the roasted kabocha squash and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Serve over jasmine rice with more Thai basil leaves and chili oil.