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King's Gluttony

Passport & Plate - Yellow pumpkin curry

Indonesia | Friday, 6 March 2015 | 2 photos


1/2 small pumpkin
400ml coconut milk
100ml vegetable stock

1/2 banana shallot
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chopped ginger
1 inch off a bunch of coriander (stalks)
1 tsp chopped lemongrass
1 tbsp tumeric
1 tsp dried coriander
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp chopped kaffir lime leaves
1 finely diced red chilli
1 tbsp peanuts/peanut butter
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

juice of half a lime
2 tbsp kecap manis (Indonesian soy sauce)/2 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tsp brown/palm sugar

Make a paste with the banana shallot, garlic, ginger, coriander stalks, lemongrass, turmeric, dried coriander, curry powder, kaffir lime leaves, red chilli, peanuts/peanut butter, cumin seeds and black pepper either with a pestle and mortar or in a high speed food processor.
Remove the skin of the pumpkin and cut into 1 inch chunks.
Heat the pan with the oil and put the paste in - fry this until the kitchen starts to smell fragrant.
Add the pumpkin and stir well so it gets completely coated by the paste.
Add 300ml of your coconut milk and 100ml vegetable stock and stir well, ensuring any paste that may have caught on the bottom of the pan comes off.
Bring this to the boil and keep on a high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cook your rice as per your preference - you're 10 minutes away from serving!
Turn to a low heat and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Bring up to boil for last few minutes, adding the remaining coconut milk
Take off the heat and leave to stand for a moment, add the lime juice and kecap manis/soy sauce and stir.
Serve with your rice, put some coriander and finely sliced chilli on top and enjoy.

About my recipe
Is it short-changing myself to put up a recipe for a dish that only comprises about 1/6 of a meal? Not when it’s as good as this one. And anyway, food is all about sharing – whether a tub of Ben & Jerry’s with your best friend, or an unexpected moment with a group of strangers over the fantastically cheap and delicious pumpkin curry you all just found at the side of the road. And that’s where the story begins.

Having just arrived on the largest of Lombok’s Gili islands, Gili Trawangan, we obviously set about finding food. With a few more ‘boat friends’ in tow, this meal needed to suit all and be a bit ‘family style’. We settled for a buffet cart right opposite the port and we didn’t look back. Piling our bowls with tempeh, sweetcorn fritters, fried green beans, soy chicken and more.

I ate this meal in week 3 of 12 and it was still by the end the best thing I had eaten. The pumpkin curry (my homage recipe) was subtly spicy and creamy, with chunks of sweet, fleshy pumpkin. It was a shame not have a bowl of just that – so the next day, I did! And the next day, and the next day (not the *next* day as we’d left by then). This pumpkin curry was a revelation to me, combining the flavours I had found so familiar in Thailand on previous visits with a completely different texture. This recipe transports me not only to the island, with its bright blue sea and beating sun, but also to a time where I would make friends with whoever let me have the last sweetcorn fritter! Sometimes you struggle to remember specific moments or people along the way when you’ve seen so many things and faces, but when you have a picture and memory like this one, you can go right back in an instant.

Later on our trip, when we were offered the chance to do a cooking course with our hotel’s chefs (it was off-peak so very quiet!) I pleaded to be shown how to make an Indonesian yellow curry with pumpkin. My recipe is a combination of the recipe I learnt that day and a few tricks I picked up on the way…

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