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Sri Lankan Butternut Squash and Coconut Curry

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  • Chef: Zoe
  • Type: Sri Lanka
  • Serves: 4
  • Cost: £4 for the whole dish

This recipe was inspired by a trip to Sri Lanka, where Zoe, our Community Food Programme manager got carried away with attending quite a few cookery lessons! We thought we’d share it here as we have had a glut of butternut squash in surplus this week.


Sri Lankan cuisine shares some similarities to South Indian cuisine, using lots of spice and coconut. Curry and rice is the most popular dish in Sri Lanka, with curry normally consisting of somewhere between 3 to 6 side curry dishes.



Butternut squash curry


In Sri Lanka this dish is normally made with pumpkin, however it works equally well with any root vegetable, such as butternut squash in this instance, potatoes or sweet potato. In this dish no frying or oil is required. Squash and other yellow/orange coloured vegetables are a rich source of pro-vitamin A and are particularly good for immunity and eye health. You could also add some chickpeas for protein and to make it go further.


Serves 4 to 6 as a main or 6 to 8 as a side to other dishes.



500 grams of butternut squash

60 grams of creamed coconut or half a tin of coconut milk

Half a teaspoon of black mustard seeds (or mustard powder)

10 curry leaves

5 cardamom pods, bashed slightly

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons of curry powder

Half a teaspoon of turmeric

1 tablespoon of lime juice

100 grams of baby or chopped spinach



  1. Cut the butternut squash into 1 and a half inch pieces (you can leave the skin on but remove the seeds). Place it in a medium sized saucepan. Crinkle the curry leaves with your hands and add these to the pan alongside all the other ingredients except the coconut milk and lime juice. Stir and then add 200 millilitres of water. Bring to the boil, simmer and cover and cook for about 10 minutes until the butternut squash is slightly soft.
  2. Meanwhile whilst you are waiting for the squash to cook, place the creamed coconut in a measuring jug alongside 100 millilitres of hot water. Stir until the coconut has mostly dissolved. Once the butternut squash is almost ready add the coconut and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir through the lime juice and spinach leaves.


Sri Lankan rice


Serves 4 to 6



300 grams of brown basmati rice

600 millilitres of hot water

1 white onion, finely chopped

10 fresh curry leaves

4 cardamom pods

1 cinnamon stick

Half a teaspoon of turmeric



  1. Place the rice in a medium sized saucepan, pour over the water and bring to the boil.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, stir once, cover and turn the heat to a simmer. Simmer gently for approximately 25 minutes until the rice is cooked.