Ibu’s Curried Butternut Squash


A friend recently asked me for a recipe with pumpkin. Truth be told, I don’t cook with pumpkin that often. I use other winter or hard squashes more frequently. So I’m offering up this butternut squash recipe in lieu of a pumpkin recipe.

I first had winter hard squash cooked this way when I was in Bali. My friend’s mom, Ibu, who is a fantastic cook, made it for us. Yummy and simple. It was a revelation. Most of the squash dishes I’d had up until then had been made with brown sugar and butter. This was 25 years ago, and though I’ve had winter squash prepared in many ways since then, this recipe remains a favorite.

I don’t know what variety of squash Ibu used in her dish, but I found I liked the taste of butternut best for this preparation. The other thing I like most about butternut squash is that for a hard squash it’s fairly easy to peel and cut. There’s quite a bit of flesh relative to the amount of skin and seeds, and the skin isn’t too tough. The squash skin is also smooth which makes it easier to peel. Have I convinced you to try it yet?

Whole Butternut Squash

Ibu’s Curried Butternut Squash


2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1″ cubes (makes approximately 5 cups)
2 large shallots, chopped (1/4 cup)
1 can coconut milk (13 1/2 ounces)
1 tablespoon curry powder
salt & pepper
1/3 cup chopped cilantro for garnish


Don’t shake the can of coconut milk. Open it and remove 4 tablespoons of the coconut cream from the top of the can. Place it in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the coconut cream comes to a boil add the shallots. Stir and sauté them in the cream for several minutes until they begin to soften. Add the curry powder and cook it briefly until it is fragrant.

Add the remaining coconut milk and stir to dissolve the curry powder into the coconut milk. Add the butternut squash cubes. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce it to a simmer, stirring it often to coat the squash with the curried coconut milk and have the squash cook evenly.

Cook the mixture until the squash is cooked through but doesn’t fully fall apart, approximately 30 minutes. Test it by sticking a knife or skewer into the squash. When you can pierce it easily all the way through it’s done. Taste and correct seasoning with salt and fresh pepper. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with steamed rice or rice noodles.

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