This butternut squash curry with chickpeas is a delicious, creamy Indian-inspired dish with subtly sweet butternut squash, chickpeas, and Indian spices. This warm and comforting vegan curry dish is the perfect meal for colder weather and makes great leftovers!
Curries are one of my favorite things to cook. One of the great benefits of preparing a curry is that it’s a hearty and filling meal easy to make and prep ahead. It usually features a variety of vegetables, beans, or lentils, along with a fragrant sauce made from Indian spices and coconut milk.
And in this particular curry, butternut squash is the star. Butternut squash is a lower-starch alternative to vegetables like potatoes. It also adds a subtly sweet flavor and natural orange color that is inviting and comforting. We’ll also add chickpeas which add lots of fiber and extra protein, making it a well-rounded meal!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Cooking Oil: Most curries use vegetable oil or coconut oil. Generally, I prefer to use extra virgin olive oil for most of my cooking. Yes, it’s not traditional for Indian curries, but it’s much lower in saturated fat than vegetable oil and coconut oil. Coconut oil is especially rich in saturated fats, and I rarely use it. If using coconut oil, make sure it’s unrefined.
- Yellow Onion & Garlic: Yellow onions and garlic are in most curry recipes as they infuse the dish with bold onion and garlic flavor. You can substitute with red or white onion and/or change the quantity of garlic to your liking.
- Cumin Seeds: A common ingredient in Indian cooking and are also used as a base for curries. They can be replaced with ground cumin if you don’t have any whole cumin seeds on hand.
- Grated Ginger: Another common ingredient in Indian cuisine. It pairs well with the other spices and gives the dish a naturally spicy and fresh flavor and has plenty of digestive benefits. If you don’t have fresh ginger on hand, you can omit it or replace it with ground ginger.
- Curry Seasonings: You’ll need a mix of garam masala, yellow curry powder, turmeric, and black pepper to give the curry its classic taste, spice, and depth of flavor.
- Chili Powder: Adds an additional kick to the curry but is entirely optional, depending on your tastes.
- Butternut Squash: Butternut squash provides a naturally sweet buttery flavor and beautiful orange color.
- Chickpeas: Add protein and fiber, as well as texture.
- Crushed Tomatoes: Crushed tomatoes, whether canned or fresh, work wonderfully with the other ingredients and give an acidic base to the curry that pairs well with the rest of the spicy flavors.
- Full-Fat Coconut Milk: Adds a creamy and delicious richness to the curry that takes it to the next level. It also provides healthy fats.
- Water: Used to help thin out the curry to make it to your desired texture.
- Salt: Enhances and brings out all of the spices and butternut squash flavors to help balance all of the ingredients.
- Baby Spinach: For a pop of green color and freshness to the curry and vital nutrients from leafy greens.
- Toppings: I used fresh cilantro leaves, green onions, fresh chili, chopped cashew, and a slice of lime. Squeezing it on top of the curry gives it a bit of zing that goes well with the sweetness of the coconut and butternut squash.
How To Make
- Toast the cumin seeds: Add the cooking oil to a large pot on medium-high heat. Once the oil is shiny and hot, add the cumin seeds and let them toast until you can hear them sizzle and they smell fragrant.
- Saute the vegetables and spices: Once the cumin seeds are toasted, add the onion, garlic, and fresh ginger. Sauté in the pan until the onions are soft and light brown.
- Add the dry seasonings and spices: Add seasoning and spices to the pot and cook for 30 seconds until everything is fragrant.
- Toast the butternut squash and chickpeas: To the spiced vegetable mixture, add the cubed butternut squash and chickpeas and sauté for a few minutes to deepen their flavor.
- Cook the curry: Add the salt, crushed tomatoes, and water and stir until combined. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn it down to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until the butternut squash is fork-tender.
- Blend the curry: Once the ingredients are cooked through, blend with an immersion blender until half of the curry is smooth and pureed. You can also do this in a high-speed blender. This will create a smoother curry if desired.
- Adjust seasoning and thickness: Taste the curry mixture and add more seasonings if desired. If the mixture is too thick, slowly add water and stir until you reach your preferred consistency. Add additional chili if you want a spicier curry.
- Add spinach and serve: Add the spinach into the curry while hot to naturally wilt it down when stirring. Ladle the curry into bowls and garnish with your favorite toppings. Here I used some spring onions, fresh chili, chopped cashew nuts, and a slice of lime. Serve alongside naan bread or basmati rice.
How to Store
This butternut squash curry is perfect for meal prep. It tastes even better the next day!
Fridge: You can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Reheat in a pan over low heat or in the microwave.
Freezer: To freeze, let the curry cool completely before transferring it to freezer-safe containers or bags. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months—Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating in a pan over low heat or in the microwave.
Tips for Cutting Butternut Squash
- Secure your cutting board: Make sure you are using a cutting board that is secured to the counter and doesn’t slide, as this could cause a dangerous slip.
- Don’t cut too small: For the curry, don’t cut the squash into too small pieces as it could cook too fast and dissolve into the curry.
- Use pre-cut squash: If you’re not confident in cutting butternut squash yourself or need to save time, purchase pre-cut butternut squash at your local grocery store if available.
Not necessarily. The skin will soften when cooked, and it’s full of fiber and vitamins. But if you prefer a smooth curry, remove the skin before cooking.
Yes, you can use any type of bean in this recipe, such as kidney beans, black beans, or pinto beans. You can also use lentils. Just make sure to drain and rinse them properly before adding them to the curry.
Butternut squash curry is delicious served with brown basmati rice or naan bread. You can also garnish it with cilantro leaves, green onions, fresh chili, and chopped cashews to add some crunchiness.
Why I Love This Easy Butternut Squash Curry
- It’s filling and satisfying but not too heavy.
- It’s full of flavor and nutrients.
- You can change up the flavor by adding as little or as many spices as you desire.
- Perfect for meal prep!
Other Curry Recipes You’ll Love
If you try this butternut squash curry recipe, please leave a comment and a rating and let me know how much you liked it!
Butternut Squash Curry
- 2 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil - See note 1 below
- 1 yellow onion - diced
- 3 garlic cloves - minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds - See note 2 below
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoons yellow curry powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- pinch black pepper
- ½ teaspoon chili powder - See note 3 below
- 2 pounds butternut squash - diced into ½ inch cubes
- 1 can can chickpeas - 15 oz, drained
- 1 can can crushed tomatoes - 15 oz
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 cups baby spinach
- For serving
- Cilantro leaves
- Green onions
- Fresh chili
- Chopped cashews
- Basmati rice - or brown rice, or white rice
- Naan bread
- Heat the oil in a large pan or a pot over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and let them toast for a few seconds until they start to release their aroma. Add the chopped onions, minced garlic cloves, and a pinch of salt and cook for 3-4 minutes until they are lightly golden.
- Add all the spices: the grated ginger, garam masala, curry powder, turmeric, a pinch of black pepper, and chili powder, and cook until fragrant for around 30 seconds.
- Add the chopped butternut squash and chickpeas and toast for a couple of minutes. Then add the salt, tomatoes, full-fat coconut milk, and a cup of water.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low to keep it gently simmering, and cook for around 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender (use a fork to check).
- Turn off the heat and blend roughly half of the curry with an immersion blender. Or transfer the mixture to a standard blender, blend until smooth, and return it to the pan. Blending the curry takes more effort, but it will help create a rich and creamy curry sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add another half a cup of water, taste for seasoning, and add more salt if necessary. If you like your curry spicy, now it’s the time to add extra chili.
- Add the baby spinach to the curry sauce. Stir for a couple of minutes until the spinach has wilted.
- Serve with brown basmati rice or naan bread, and garnish with coriander, green onions, fresh chili, and chopped cashews to add some crunchiness.
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