Thai yellow pumpkin and seafood curry

My most regular dinner guest was away this past weekend so it was the ideal opportunity to cook something she doesn’t like, like fish. Nigella Lawson’s Thai Yellow Pumpkin and Seafood Curry from Nigella Bites was exactly what I felt like.

I first had this curry at my friend Debra’s house almost ten years ago. I raved about it so much she gavethe book to me for my birthday. The recipe is really easy and other than peeling and cleaning the prawns, is really quick to make.

Instead of salmon, I used 250 grams of jew fish and 250 grams of ocean trout. Yellow curry paste is not particularly hot so I used 2 tablespoons. The lime juice is important as it cuts through the creaminess of the coconut milk.

This curry was a hit: always happy when the guests come back for seconds!

Thai Yellow Pumpkin & Seafood Curry

from Nigella Bites

Serves 4-6


400ml tin coconut milk

1-2 tablespoons yellow (or red) Thai curry paste

350ml fish stock

3 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons palm sugar or caster sugar

3 lemongrass stalks, each cut into three and bruised with the flat of a knife

3 lime leaves, de-stalked and cut into strips

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1kg pumpkin (or butternut squash), peeled and cut into large-bite-sized chunks

500g salmon fillet, preferably organic, skinned and cut into large, bite-sized chunks

500g peeled raw prawns

Pak choi or any other green vegetables of your choice

Juice of 1/2-1 lime, to taste

Coriander, to serve


Skim the thick creamy top off the tin of coconut milk and put it, over medium heat, into a large saucepan or casserole with the curry paste. Let it sizzle and, using a fork, whisk or wooden spoon, beat milk and paste together until combined.

Still beating gently, add the rest of the coconut milk, fish stock, fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass, lime leaves and turmeric. Bring to a boil and then add the pumpkin. Cook on a fast simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 15 minutes, although different sorts of pumpkins can vary enormously in the time they take to cook.

You can cook the curry up till this part in advance, leaving the pumpkin with a tiny bit of bite to it (it will soften and cook as the pan cools). Either way, when you’re about 5 minutes away from wanting to eat, get ready to cook the seafood.

To the robustly simmering pan, add the salmon and prawns (if you’re using the prawns from frozen they’ll need to go in before the salmon). When the salmon and prawns have cooked through, which shouldn’t take more than 3-4 minutes, stir in any green veg you’re using – sliced, chopped or shredded as suits – and tamp down with a wooden spoon.

When the pak choi’s wilted, squeeze in the juice of half a lime, stir and taste and add the juice of the remaining half if you feel it needs it. Take the pan off the heat or decant the curry into a large bowl, and sprinkle over the coriander; the point is that the coriander goes in just before serving.

Serve with more chopped coriander for people to add to their own bowls as they eat, and some plain Thai or basmati rice.

Indian chicken with coconut rice

I was in Sydney this weekend catching up with friends and was fishing for ideas for Sunday Dinner at breakfast this morning at a great cafe in North Bondi. I was after a recipe that wasn’t too labour intensive, as I wouldn’t have much time. Gerri suggested this chicken dish from a recent Cuisine NZ magazine - it was delicious when she had cooked it a few weeks earlier.

Because I was pushed for time, I changed the recipe a bit – mainly by simplifying the method. I used chicken lovely legs instead of chicken thigh fillets (minimises the trimming of the chicken required with chicken thigh fillets); drumsticks would be just as good. I squeezed some lime juice over the dish – I like the sourness it adds. Plain yoghurt is a perfect accompaniment.

Indian chicken with coconut rice

Adapted from Fiona Smith’s recipe in Cuisine Issue #151

Serves: 4-5

2 tablespoon sunflower oil

10 chicken lovely legs (or drumsticks)

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

1 onion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons curry paste (I used Chicken Tikka Masala paste)

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

3 cm piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped

650ml chicken stock

200ml coconut cream

1 1⁄2 cups basmati rice, rinsed

1⁄4 cup curry leaves

1⁄4 cup coriander leaves, chopped

1 lime

250 g plain yoghurt to serve

Steamed green beans to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Heat a little of the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat then brown the chicken until golden. Transfer to a baking dish or large casserole.

Add the remaining oil to the pan. Fry the mustard seeds for a few seconds then add the onion and cook for 3 minutes until starting to colour. Stir in the curry paste and cook for a few minutes then stir in the turmeric, ground coriander, cumin and ginger and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook until grains are translucent.

Add the stock, followed by the coconut cream. Bring to a simmer then add the chicken. Cover with foil (and lid if using a casserole dish) and place in the oven. After 30 minutes, remove the chicken, add the curry leaves and stir the rice mixture then return the chicken to the dish and place back in the oven for a further 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5-10 minutes. Before serving scatter with the coriander and squeeze over lime juice.

Serve with plain yoghurt as an accompaniment.

Spirit House Green Chicken Curry

Because of Mothers Day, Alexander and I were on our own for Sunday Dinner this Sunday. As we were going to an early movie, we had a quick bowl of curry before heading off.

I love making meals from scratch. Making the curry paste for a curry makes such a difference – it tastes so much fresher. This curry paste is from Spirit House – Thai Cooking by Helen Brierty and Annette Fear which I was given to me by my dad and step-mother for Christmas 2004. Once made, I freeze it in 3-4 tablespoon lots until needed. Before Mim headed back to uni in Melbourne, she took a few “packets” of green curry paste with her so she could create some instant meals. When both kids were living at home and I was working full time, recipes like this came in handy. I could walk through the door and have a great meal on the table within 40 minutes.

This Sunday I made the curry using 8 organic chicken drumsticks instead of chicken breast or thigh. I find the sauce makes enough for at least 650 grams of breast or thigh. I also added some pumpkin, just because I love the taste of it in curries. As I accidentally left Thai basil off the shopping list, I scattered some coriander over the curry instead. Thai basil does add something though, if you remember to buy it.

This curry paste is not particularly hot – in fact I use 16 chillies in the paste and 4 tablespoons of paste in the curry. It is very fragrant though, and delicious! My mortar is not very big so I pound the peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and salt then transfer the mixture to the food processor. Not perfect but it does the job.

Spirit House Green Curry Paste

Makes approximately 2 cups

20 white peppercorns

2 tablespoons coriander seeds, roasted

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, roasted

2 teaspoons salt

15 green chillies, seeded and chopped

2 small red onions, finely chopped

12 cloves garlic, chopped

4 tablespoons lemongrass, finely chopped

2 teaspoons chopped galangal

4 teaspoons chopped coriender root

2 teaspoons chopped kaffir line leaf

4 teaspoons shrimp paste, roasted*

Roast the coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a frying pan over gentle heat until fragrant. In a mortar and pestle, pound the peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and salt together. Add remaining ingredients one at a time and pound to a smooth paste. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar in the refrigerator. Keeps for 2-3 weeks.

*wrap the shrimp paste in foil and roast in the oven (or in a hooded barbeque) at about 180C until pungent.

Spirit House Green Chicken Curry

2 cups coconut cream

3-4 tablespoons green curry paste

1 tablespoon palm sugar

2 tablespoons fish sauce

500 g chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons tamarind water**

1 cup Thai basil leaves

In a wok, heat 1/2 cup of coconut cream, add curry paste and cook until fragrant (about 5 mins). Add sugar and fish sauce and cook a further few minutes, adding a little more coconut cream if necessary. Stir in the chicken, tamarind water and remaining coconut cream. Bring to boil then reduce to simmer. Cook until the chicken is tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the basil leaves. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Serves 4-6

** to make tamarind water, place 1 tablespoon of tamarind pulp in a bowl, pour over 1/2 cup of boiling water and leave to cool. Mash pulp with a fork and stain the liquid through a sieve, retaining the liquid. Discard the tamarind seeds and skins.