Pumpkin Showdown: Pumpkin Curry

We are obsessed with pumpkin so much over here at Chow Bella that we thought it was time to take all the smack talk to task with a pumpkin showdown. All the blog contributors gathered 'round the table with their best pumpkin recipes to see whose dish gets the Great Pumpkin award. Today's contender? Carrie Wheeler's Pumpkin Curry. Stay tuned each day through next week for more dishes in the showdown.

Pumpkin season (in most locations) coincides with cold weather, which is why we chose a recipe that adds a spicy punch to a pumpkin -- Japanese-style curry

Some of the inherent pluses of a curry: You can customize it with your favorite meats and veggies; the longer it sits, the better (and spicier) it gets; it's a great vehicle for condiments; and this recipe will feed four -- and you'll still have leftovers for later. 

There are two ways to make curry the easy way (using a pre-packaged, MSG-laden curry block), or for the purists, foregoing the packaging and creating your own curry roux. 

For the sake of the contest, we went for broke and made everything from scratch, which probably added about 30 extra minutes to the whole process.

Get both versions of the recipe after the jump.

Pumpkin Curry

Ingredients (for both easy & difficult recipes):
- One pie pumpkin, hollowed and cubed (You can also substitute potatoes, squash, or sweet potatoes)
- 2 pounds of chicken thighs cut into chunks (Or beef or shrimp)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3-4 carrots chopped into chunks
- Any additional veggies (We added approximately 1/2 cup of each: mushrooms, green beans, and peas)
- 1 small apple peeled, cored and pureed (We used a microplane)
- 4 cups of water (We substituted one cup of water with chicken broth)
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt

If you're making your own roux:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons garam masala (or curry powder)
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add less if you want it mild, more if you like it spicy)
- Fresh ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 tablespoon tonkatusu (or Worcestershire sauce)

If you're following the easy recipe:
- Boxed Japanese curry (such as Vermont or S&B)

- Heat oil over medium low heat and add the onions and saute until they are golden brown and carmelized (about 30 minutes). Turn up the heat to high, add chicken and brown.

- Add carrots and water and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that accumulates at the top then lower the heat to medium and add the pumpkin and apple. Simmer for 30 minutes or until you can easily fork the pumpkin and carrots and the meat is tender.

- Add the roux or boxed curry cubes until they are incorporated.

- Serve over white rice or Udon noodles.

Directions for roux:
- Melt butter over medium low heat. Add flour and garam masala and stir until they create a paste. Add the cayenne pepper and fresh ground pepper to the roux. Combine with ketchup and tonkatsu sauce. Continue to cook until the paste gets crumbling. Remove from heat and set aside until the meat and veggies are ready.

Tips:  God is in the garnish. Green onions, toasted pumpkin seeds (from the pumpkin) and sriracha make a good curry even better.

Check out the earlier entries, pumpkin cookies with brown sugar frostingchocolate chip pumpkin cake and pumpkin pecan craisin muffins, and check back each day this week for the rest of our competition.

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Carrie Wheeler