This butternut squash curry is infused with Indian spices and packed full of filling chickpeas and red lentils making a very satisfying meal. Bonus that it is very easy to make and completely vegan too!
It's officially fall and to us that definitely means it's cozy food season right now! This butternut squash curry hits that mark. We love a good curry, but sometimes we find they can be too greasy, too hot or too sweet and unbalanced. So, we’ve got such a treat for you with this perfectly spiced warming butternut squash curry that we swear we ate every night this last week, it’s that good! Check out our creamy coconut curry chicken soup too!
Making a homemade curry can sometimes feel daunting, using spices and achieving that balance we were talking about; we’ve often felt we have no idea where to start! Well, we're not going to try to reinvent the wheel here. We're just going to give you our version that we think is best. If you're after even more butternut squash recipes try out our butternut squash and red pepper soup.
This butternut squash curry uses one of our favourite vegetables, so why not make a lovely warming curry with roasted butternut squash at the center? It’s cheap, readily available and so delicious. We just love this time of year for its wonderful abundant produce! Perfect for making this hasselback butternut squash too.
So, let’s get to it! We know you’ll love this vegan curry as much as we do. Let us know how you get on in the comments and don’t forget to leave a rating!
⭐ Why you'll love this recipe
Here are some reasons you'll absolutely love this butternut squash curry with chickpeas recipe:
Satisfying - with all the protein and fibre in this butternut squash curry you really can't escape the fact that it will be very satisfying, especially served with rice or naan.
Healthy - we use all from scratch ingredients so you know exactly what is in your food. Packed with veggies, this comes in at well under 500 calories a portion.
Vegan - this recipe is suitable for those who are following a vegan diet. It's got everything you need to feel good.
Flavor - we pride ourselves upon the amazing flavor journey we take you on through this delicious curry. It's far simpler than it looks and the flavor is totally worth it!
The majority of the ingredients for this butternut squash curry are easy to come by. If you struggle to find any of them they are readily available online (check out the links below).
Butternut squash - you’ll need a nice firm butternut squash, it provides sweetness to the curry but is balanced nicely by being roasted with spices. The depth of flavor in this dish is enhanced by the roasting process.
Spices - these are the spices you need: ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon, kashmiri chili powder, turmeric powder, fenugreek leaves, black pepper and kosher salt. The kashmiri chili powder has a vibrant red color and mild heat and imparts a lovely flavor. See substitutions section below for some notes.
Pulses - you’ll need red lentils as these provide added texture and thickness to the curry sauce and also some creaminess as they break down a little on cooking. You’ll also need chickpeas which make this an extra satisfying vegan curry!
Tomato paste - this is the base of the curry paste and adds even more richness. In the UK this is known as tomato puree.
Coconut milk - this creates a lovely creamy sauce with the right texture to keep you going back for more.
📖 Substitutions and customizations
We understand some ingredients for this butternut squash curry may be harder to acquire, they are available online but here are some recommendations if not:
Spices - If you can’t get hold of kashmiri chili powder in your location you can use paprika mixed with some cayenne pepper. This substitution just won’t have the same flavor as kashmiri chili powder though, so please try and get hold of some if you can. Fenugreek leaves impart an almost smoky, earthy flavor with a nice bitterness too. If you can’t get hold of leaves - substitute with ground fenugreek using half the amount (¼ teaspoon).
Change up the vegetables - why not switch up the vegetables to whatever you have on hand - carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes or rutabaga (swede) would work just as well.
Want more protein? - You can substitute the butternut squash for crispy tofu (find tips on how to make crispy tofu in our Crispy Tofu Black Rice Bowl recipe) or add some shredded chicken instead.
Curry paste - if you don't feel inclined to make your own curry paste we suggest using a tikka masala paste or a rogan josh curry paste. Obviously it won't taste the same as intended but it'll speed things up a little for you.
🔪 How to make butternut squash curry
Let's hook you up with the most flavorful moreish butternut squash curry. There are some key steps to flavor development for this, don’t skip them! If you're on a tighter time scale there are some alternatives in the FAQ’s.
Flavor building steps:
- Toss the cubed squash with olive oil, cumin, chilli powder, cinnamon, salt and black pepper.
- Bake on a baking sheet for 30-35 minutes turning half way through until tender to the fork and browning. This step adds depth of flavor to the final curry via the Maillard reaction.
- This paste is a flavor bomb for the curry. Mix together in a small bowl the spices; cumin, coriander, kashmiri chili, turmeric, black pepper, fenugreek leaves, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the tomato paste to make your curry paste.
- Sauté the onion until golden at the edges (about 10 minutes) then add the garlic and ginger and sauté for another minute, until fragrant.
- Add the curry paste to the onion mix in the pan and cook out for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add the red lentils, coconut milk and water and bring to the boil.
- Turn down the heat and simmer uncovered to allow the sauce to thicken and deepen in flavor.
- Stir in the roasted butternut squash and chickpeas.
👩🏻🍳 Expert tips
Make sure you follow these expert tips to ensure success and an amazing trip to flavor town with this butternut squash curry:
Tip #1 - make sure the onion base gets some golden brown color (without letting it burn) as it really deepens the flavor of the curry.
Tip #2 - cut the butternut squash into large chunks, this will give a great texture but will also mean that it won't go mushy.
Tip #3 - it’s important to cook out the paste to bring out the flavor of the spices (this is called tempering) - your kitchen will soon be filled with the aroma of this amazing curry.
Tip #4 - fry off some cumin seeds, dried chili flakes, garlic slices and nigella (kalonji) seeds in some oil or ghee and drizzle over the top of the curry for an extra pop of flavor!
🍽 What to serve with it
Here are some suggestions for what to serve with this butternut squash curry:
Naan - a great tool for dipping and scooping up the curry. And no it's not naan bread, naan means bread, it can't be bread bread.
Yogurt - serve with a plain yogurt, it can be dairy free too, or add some flavor in with a bit of mint.
Pappadam - a beautiful light crisp and slightly salty pappadam is great to go with our curry. Easy to make yourself in the microwave when bought in.
Rice - rice is obviously important to serve with this curry, it helps absorb some of that sauce up beautifully. We recommend white or brown basmati or you can go all out and make your own pilau.
💭 Recipe FAQs
The leftovers of this butternut squash curry can be made into a soup. You will just need to blend until smooth, adding more water or broth to get to the desired soup consistency.
Yes! You’ll just need to make some adjustments to the recipe. Instead of roasting the butternut squash off with the spices first, you’ll need to skip this roasting step. Sauté the aromatics off and stir in the curry paste as per the recipe, then add the raw butternut squash to the pan and sauté for a few minutes with the paste. Transfer to the crockpot and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours.
It will still taste good, but not as good as with the roasted butternut squash, which adds so much depth of flavor.
Yes, absolutely. Freeze in portions in an airtight container and it will keep in the freezer for 3 months. To reheat - defrost thoroughly in the fridge overnight and reheat either in the microwave for 3-4 minutes on high or 10 minutes in a saucepan on the stove over a medium heat until hot throughout. It will still taste good, but the texture of the squash may not survive well.
Technically you don't have to as the skin will soften with roasting. But we prefer the texture from peeling it for this butternut squash curry.
🥗 Related recipes
If you've loved this butternut squash curry you'll love some of our other fall meal recipes. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Love this recipe? Leave us a 5-star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe below and don't forget to leave a review in the comments section underneath the recipe. We love hearing from you!
Butternut Squash Curry with Chickpeas
For the roasted squash
For the curry paste
For the curry
To serve (optional)
- fresh cilantro, chopped
- basmati rice
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
- Toss the cubed squash with the olive oil, cumin, kashmiri chilli powder, cinnamon, salt and black pepper. Bake on a baking sheet for 30-35 minutes, turning half way through until tender to the fork.5-6 cups peeled butternut squash, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon ground kashmiri chilli powder, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- To make your curry paste, mix together in a small bowl; cumin, coriander, kashmiri chilli, turmeric, black pepper, fenugreek leaves, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the tomato paste/puree to make your paste.2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground kashmiri chilli powder, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon fenugreek leaf, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and saute the onion until golden at the edges (about 10 minutes) then add the garlic and ginger and saute for another minute, until fragrant.1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 large yellow onion, finely diced, 3 garlic cloves, 1 inch chunk of ginger
- Add the curry paste to the onion mixture and continue to cook out for a couple of minutes to temper the spices, stirring regularly.
- Add the red lentils, coconut milk and water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.½ cup dried red lentils, 1 can coconut milk, 2 cups water
- Stir in the roasted butternut squash and chickpeas and simmer for a further 5 minutes.1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Serve with rice and naan, yogurt and chopped cilantro, if using.fresh cilantro, basmati rice, yogurt, naan
- Be sure to temper the curry paste before adding in the additional ingredients.
- Caramelize the onions to impart even more flavor.
- To freeze leftovers, store in portions in freezer bags or an air tight container for up to 3 months, the texture of the butternut squash may deteriorate over time though.
- If you want to be slightly quicker you can substitute our curry paste for your favorite shop bought paste. It obviously won't taste the same as intended.