The Challenge: Spicy Pumpkin

May 25, 2011

I love spicy food! And in my navigation of pumpkin inspired cuisine, I have found that this squash’s natural sweetness perfectly compliments the flavors of some of my favorite spicy dishes. Here are a few curry and chili recipes to whet your palate!

Vegetarian Pumpkin Curry

This vegan friendly curry has a bright, orange flavor. It is a little complicated, though, so give yourself a couple hours on a Sunday to prepare it. Fortunately, it makes enough to feed you for most of the week!

Serves 6.

Vegetarian Pumpkin Curry

½ sugar pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and roasted
1 yam or sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1-2 carrots, thickly sliced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup tomatoes
1 can of chick peas (garbanzo beans)
2 tbsp orange rind zest

Curry Sauce

3-4 cloves garlic
1-2 dried or fresh red chilies
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
juice of ½ lime
juice of 1 medium orange
½ tsp turmeric
1 tbsp rice or apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp cumin
1/3 chopped red onion

While the pumpkin is roasting in the oven on 400 degrees for 30 minutes, zest the orange and set it aside then combine all the curry sauce ingredients in a food presser or blender and pulse until well mixed. Next put on a pot of rice and chop the rest of the vegetables.

Once roasting is complete, add the pumpkin, yam, and carrots to a large wok or frying pan with the curry sauce and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables start to soften. Next add the bell pepper, tomatoes, chick peas, and orange rind. Stir well and simmer for another few minutes.

Taste test the curry and add more soy sauce (for a saltier flavor) or more chili (for a spicier flavor). Serve over rice and enjoy!

Beef Pumpkin Curry

This dish is amazing. The pumpkin really soaks up the rich flavors of the coconut milk and spices and when done right has the texture of potatoes in a hearty Indian curry.

Serves 4-6.

Beef Pumpkin Curry

1-2 tbsp oil
1 chopped red onion cut in rings
4 tbsp red curry paste
1 tsp cumin power
1 can coconut milk
1 lb lean beef steak cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 tsp cinnamon
zest of one lime
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 small pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cubed
Optional Garnish: roasted peanuts and fresh cilantro

In a large frying pan or wok heat the oil over medium heat and fry the onion rings for a few minutes until soft. Add the curry paste and cumin and toast for a minute until fragrant, then add the coconut milk, beef, cinnamon, lime zest, fish sauce, and 1 cup of water. Stir well and bring to a boil before reducing to simmer with the lid on for 15-20 minutes. After 15 minutes, check a piece of beef for doneness before adding the pumpkin cubes, which will need to simmer in the curry mixture for an additional 10-15 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on your pan to make sure it doesn’t boil over. Serve over rice and top with the peanuts and cilantro if desired.

Crockpot Pumpkin Chili

What’s better than coming home to a hot, ready-to-eat dinner? Nothing. Prepare this slow cooked chili in the morning and have it for supper after work.

Serves 6-8.

Crockpot Pumpking Chili

1 large onion chopped
2 bell peppers
½ lb dry black beans
2 cups pumpkin peeled, seeded, and cut in cubes
28 oz canned, diced tomato
14.5 oz tomato sauce
1 ½ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
3 cayenne peppers (dried or fresh)
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
⅛ tsp ginger
⅛ tsp cloves

Ready to eat!

Soak the dry beans overnight for 12 hours and then drain or prepare according to the quick soak method on the package. Combine all ingredients in your crockpot and mix well. Turn crockpot on high for 9-12 hours. Top with cheese and sour cream if desired and serve.

Pumpkin Chili with Couscous

This experiment has more of a curry flavor and didn’t turn out quite as I planned. Don’t get me wrong it tasted pretty good, but it was a little overly spicy and did a number on my stomach when combined with a night of Halloween drinking.

2 cups cooked couscous
6 spicy Italian peppers, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
water as needed
3 dried cayenne peppers
2 cans (16 oz) stewed, chopped tomatoes
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 can black beans
1 tsp chili power
1 tsp curry power
cinnamon and cayenne to taste

Add a little oil to a pot and cook the onion for a few minutes. Next add the spices and toast for a minute until fragrant then add the rest of the ingredients except for the couscous and simmer for 10 minutes. Add couscous to the chili/curry mixture and let simmer for another minute or two.

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