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Butternut Squash Curry with Chickpeas

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time50 mins
Servings: 6
Calories: 338kcal
Author: Nisha Vora


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil (use refined for a neutral taste, or a neutral oil of choice)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2- inch piece ginger, grated or finely minced
  • 1-3 bird's eye chili peppers, thinly sliced (peppers are optional; only use for spicy version)*
  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, minced or grated (optional but recommended)**
  • 5 tablespoons red curry paste (see Recipe Notes below on spiciness level and brands)***
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1 (13.5-ounce / (400 mL) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 5 cups (700-730g) of peeled and cubed butternut squash (~ 2.5 pound butternut squash)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce (or 1 tablespoon Thai Light Soy Sauce)****
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or pure maple syrup)
  • 2 (15-ounce / 425g) cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups baby spinach or baby kale (about 4 large handfuls)
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (or lime juice)
  • 1 large handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 handful Thai basil leaves
  • White rice or brown rice (for serving, optional)


  • Heat a Dutch oven or a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the coconut oil, and once shimmering, add the onions and carrots along with a pinch of kosher salt. Cook the vegetables for 7-8 minutes, or until they are very tender and lightly browned.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, chili peppers (if using), lemongrass (if using), and red curry paste, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat the vegetables. If not using a nonstick pan, you'll likely need to add a tablespoon or two of water to prevent the mixture from drying out, sticking, and burning.
  • Pour in the vegetable broth, stirring with a spatula to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Pour in the coconut milk and stir to combine, then add the cubed butternut squash, soy sauce or tamari, and coconut sugar, stirring to combine.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low or medium-low to maintain a rapid simmer for 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender and cooked through.
    Turn off the heat and use an immersion blender to blend roughly half of the curry. Make sure to leave some chunks of squash intact. Alternatively, transfer half of the curry to a stand blender. Blend until the mixture is puréed and mostly smooth, then return it to the pan.
  • Stir in the chickpeas and bring the curry to a gentle simmer. Once simmering, stir in the baby spinach or kale, stirring until the greens have wilted.
  • Turn off the heat, and stir in the rice wine vinegar. Taste for seasonings, adding salt as needed. Tear the Thai basil leaves to release their oils and add along with the chopped cilantro to the curry.
  • Serve the curry over rice and additional cilantro or Thai basil to garnish.


* I would use bird's eye chili peppers (aka Thai chili peppers) only if you like spicy food, as these peppers are spicy. My personal preference is to use 3 of them, but I like my food spicier than most of my readers.
For a good amount of heat, use 1 chili pepper. If you can't find bird's eye chili peppers, try 1-2 serrano peppers. 
** Use only the tender, inner white bulb towards the bottom of the lemongrass stalk. For tips on how to peel/cut lemongrass, watch the Youtube video starting at the 3:09 mark. 
*** There is great variability in spiciness across curry paste brands. A commonly found brand in grocery stores is Thai Kitchen. It is less spicy than many other brands, including the one I used (Maesri). If using Thai Kitchen, I like using 5 tablespoons. With Maesri, I usually use 4 tablespoons.
Whichever brand you choose, be sure to read the ingredient labels - some curry pastes include fish sauce or shrimp paste. 
**** Thai Soy Sauce, aka Thin Soy Sauce or Light Soy Sauce, can be found at Southeast Asian grocery stores. It is considerably saltier than a standard grocery store soy sauce. If using a standard grocery store soy sauce, I recommend using 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons. If using reduced sodium soy sauce, use 2 1/2 tablespoons.  
To keep this recipe gluten-free, use tamari.