Autumn, Winter, Main

Kerala Butternut Squash & Lentil Curry

Fragrant with spice, creamy with coconut, and tangy with tomato and lime, this is my go-to, foolproof, midweek meal. There are lots of ingredients here, but pulling them together is simple, and makes for a relaxing hour in the kitchen. Serve with rice and chapattis for a warming, hearty feast for two people, or a lighter meal for four.

2 to 4


For the spice mix

½ tsp turmeric

3 tsp medium curry powder or Masala powder blend

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp fenugreek seeds

2 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp ground cinnamon, or a cinnamon stick

¼ to ½ tsp chilli flakes, to taste

4 cardamon pods, bashed

1 tbsp tamarind paste or juice of ½ a lime

½ tsp asafoetida (optional)

For the curry

1 butternut squash, peeled and diced

4 tbsp groundnut oil

1 large onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2-inch piece ginger, grated

3 dried or fresh curry leaves (optional)

400ml tin coconut milk

400ml tin chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato ketchup or sugar

250ml vegetable stock

Juice of ½ lime

400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ cup red split lentils, rinsed

Cooked rice

Chapattis or naan

Garnishes (optional)

Handful coriander

Sliced red chilli

Black sesame seeds

Lime quarters


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6. Prepare the spice mix by adding all the indredients to a small bowl and stirring to combine.
  2. Spread the butternut squash out on a baking tray lined with foil, drizzle with 2 tbsp of the groundnut oil, and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, until golden. When it's ready, remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over a medium-low heat, and add the onion. Cook until soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and grated ginger, and continue to cook for a few more minutes, until fragrant.
  4. Add the spice mix and curry leaves to the pan, and continue to cook for a couple of minutes on a low heat until the spices become fragrant.
  5. Add the coconut milk, stir to combine, then add the chopped tomatoes and tomato ketchup or sugar.
  6. Bring to a simmer, and add the vegetable stock, lime juice, chickpeas and red split lentils. Bring back to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes, until thick and creamy. Towards the end of cooking, add the squash to the pan to heat through, and remove the cinnamon stick, if using.
  7. Serve with the rice and chapattis, and whichever garnishes you like.

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