This is an easy one-pot recipe, where the butternut squash and apple join the coconut milk-based curry from the eastern side of the world. This curry is cooked very quickly, letting the apple and the butternut squash keep their structure, vitamins, and flavours alive. The only step that might be time a bit difficult and relatively time-consuming is the preparation of the squash. In the notes section, I give you a few tips on how to peel and cut butternut squash. Chopping up the squash ahead is a time saver for a weeknight dinner.
In this dish, the north American butternut squash and the dutch Elstar apple are the stars. They are joined by coconut milk and spices to make a creamy, aromatic, and rich curry which is heated up with red hot peppers. I included chicken in the recipe, you might just skip it, replace it with tofu, or add some extra squash instead and enjoy a delicious vegan meal.
Butternut squash is a winter squash, originally developed in Massachusetts,( U.S.A .) in the 1940s. It is a fruit with a tan light colour on the outside and a vibrant orange colour on the inside. It is a good source of fibre, vitamins C and A, magnesium, potassium. It has many culinary uses, just like a vegetable, it can be roasted, steamed, braised, or as a main soup ingredient, even in desserts. Both seeds and skin are edible, either raw or roasted. Butternut squash can be kept uncut for up to six months in a dry cool place, or the freezer when cut into skinless cubes.
Elstar apples are available in late fall to mid-winter. Developed in Elst (Gelderland province), The Netherlands, in the 1950s, Elstar apples have distinctive skin colour, mostly red with yellow showing, a crispy texture, and sweet flavour. In The Netherlands, they are widely used for making applesauce and pies. In this recipe, the Elstar apple was added at a late stage of the cooking process so it can keep flavours and texture.
Be aware of the way I cooked the chicken in the recipe in two-stages. In the first one, you pan fry it for a few minutes, at high temperature, until golden brown. By doing this, first, the chicken meat is seared keeping all the juices and moist inside, and second, the dissolved fats to be used to saute the onion, green, and chilli peppers, enhancing their flavours.
I used a mix of spices inspired by Indian curry recipes. The spices are grand marsala, cumin and curcuma. The latter with lots of healthy benefits. Typically, curry recipes call for coriander seeds coriander leaves. It was my choice to leave them during the cooking process and use thyme instead, it just occurred to me that it will be a better choice for the apple and the squash itself.
The coconut milk is the bonding element in this recipe. It brings all the colours and aromas together, also providing a smooth, velvety appearance to the dish. Due to short cooking tine of the fruits (squash and apples), they will keep their colour, shape and a good texture, far from bland.
This curry can be served with plain white rice. I used Basmati rice to accompany, served in a small bowl. I did use a few coriander leaves to garnish. I love curry topped with fresh coriander leaves. I just love “cilantro” (Spanish for coriander), it is one of those great aromas and flavours I grew up with!
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- Rub chicken with the salt . Pour enough oil to cover the bottom of a large saucepan or a wok, bring the oil to high heat temperature. Stir in the chicken, let it turn into a golden brown color. Once the chicken reached the desired color, remove it from the pan, leaving the fats behind. Let the chicken rest on a side.
- In the same pan where the chicken was pre-cooked, add the red and green peppers and onions. Let it cook until the onion is starts to turn transparent, for about three minutes.
- Add the pumpkin cubes, and the pre- cooked chicken. Let the mix cook for 5 more min, still at high heat.
- Stirr in the spices and coconut milk bringing it to boil to later reduce heat to medium heat. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for about 10 mins.
- Add the apple and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Serving suggestion: In a bowl, with steamed white rice . Top the curry with fresh coriander leaves and enjoy it!
How to peel, seed and cut a squash?
It is easier than you might think, the only requirement is to use an 8 or 10-inch sharp knife.
- Start by cutting the top and bottom of the squash.
- Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler holding the squash in one hand. Alternatively, you can also let the squash standing upright and cut the skin with the knife, in downwards strokes.
- With the squash standing in the cutting board. Cut the squash in half, making a long cut from the top to the bottom.
- Scoop out the seeds
- Proceed to cut in cube shapes of 1,5 - 2 cm for this recipe.
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