Tamarind-Pumpkin Curry

The sweetness of pumpkin or squash in this attractive dish is balanced by a touch of sour tamarind. This is a good foil for spicy dishes such as Kachin Pounded Beef with Herbs or Chile-Oil Fish. Serve hot or at room temperature. Leftovers are delicious.


  • pounds pumpkin, or kabocha, acorn, or other hard winter squash
  • About 2 teaspoons tamarind pulp, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Dried Shrimp Powder
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon Red Chile Powder, or ¼ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce, or to taste
  • ¾ cup water
  • Salt (optional)
  • About ¼ cup chopped coriander, or 2 to 3 tablespoons minced mint


Cut the pumpkin or squash into approximately 1-inch cubes (you should have about 3 cups). Peel them and set aside.

Put the tamarind pulp in the hot water. Mash it with a fork to dissolve it. Let stand for 10 minutes, then press the liquid through a sieve into a bowl. Discard the pulp.

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet or saucepan or a wok over medium heat. Add the turmeric and stir, then add the shallot, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallot is softened and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the shrimp powder and cook for about a minute, until softened. Add the chile powder or cayenne, pumpkin cubes, tamarind liquid, fish sauce, and the ¾ cup water, raise the heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a strong simmer and cook until the pumpkin or squash cubes have softened, 5 to 8 minutes (timing will depend on the kind of pumpkin or squash). Remove the lid and simmer for another minute so the sauce cooks down a little.

Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings if you wish by adding a dash more fish sauce or a little salt. Top with the coriander or mint and serve.

Sweet Potato Curry

To use sweet potato in place of pumpkin, peel about 1½ pounds sweet potatoes and cut into bite-sized cubes. It will take a little longer to cook.