Saturday, May 2, 2009

Thai Pumpkin And Chicken Curry

I was curious about this Virgin Coconut Oil and all the fuss for some time now. There were shows and information spreading around about this 'healthy coconut oil' which is derived from Fresh Coconut instead of it's dried form, Copra which is a RBD Coconut Oil (RBD stands for refined, bleached and deodorized). I finally found some brands available at an organic counter. I chose a smaller bottle to start with as I don't know how it will taste or how good it's heat tolerance in cooking as claimed by many. Also, it's said that Virgin Coconut Oil has medicinal and beauty values ranging for human usage to your faithful pets!

Guessed what? I'm hooked! :-P I was surprised by the quality of this Virgin Coconut Oil... After I cooked with the oil, the sweet coconut aroma was still there and less smoky too when it's subjected to very high heat. I'm thinking of replacing recipes using butter with Virgin Coconut Oil (like coconut in cookies) instead as suggested by Toni Fiore of Totally Vegetarian fame. Then I got this idea of replacing recipe using coconut milk with evaporated milk and Virgin Coconut Oil. The evaporated milk to give a creamy look and Virgin Coconut Oil for the coconut aroma... LOL. I'm not sure about other foodies opinions about this replacement as not all recipes are suitable and I still feel that nothing beats the original taste of fresh coconut milk... well, once awhile it's no harm. Everything should be taken in moderation, right?

If you are interested to make your own Virgin Coconut Oil, you can look into Milyn and Peter Christopher's blog, Homemadestyle and Virgin Coconut Oil.Com.

Back to the recipe, here's a recipe I used my left overs from recent cooking. I also added extra Bird's Eye Chillies at the end of the cooking to give that extra kick of wake-me-up and for my chilli-crazy brother who visited me so early in the morning on Friday :-|
Serve with steamed rice and chillies!

Thai Pumpkin and Chicken Curry
Serves 2-4

1 small Pumpkin (any suitable pumpkin, about 500 g - 700g)
500 g Boneless Chicken Thighs - cut into bite-sized pieces
½ cup Thai Basil - firmly packed & chiffonade

To be blended into paste:
2 nos Shallots - chopped coarsely
3 cloves garlic - chopped coarsely
3 Tbl Thai Red Curry Paste
2 Tbl Water

300 ml Fresh Coconut Milk (canned or packed can be use)
2 Tbl Fish Sauce (Nam pla)
1 nos Lime (½ Lemon) - extract the juice only
2 tsp Palm sugar or Light Brown Sugar

3 Tbl Virgin Coconut Oil or Cooking Oil of your choice

1. Prepare the pumpkin; halved, seeded, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks. Washed and drain well.
2. For the curry base: In a blender, add in the garlic, shallots, Thai Curry Paste and water. Process until smooth.
3. In another small bowl, combine the coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
4. Heat up a pot or deep pan over medium heat. Add in 2 Tbl of cooking oil. Shallow fry the chicken meat until light brown (half cooked). Remove and transfer the chicken pieces into a bowl or plate. Set aside.
5. Return the pot/pan to the heat and add the remaining oil. Add the curry paste and stir until fragrant (be careful the paste will caused the oil to splatter).
6. Add in the chicken meat and pumpkin. Mix well with the paste mixture.
7. Stir in the coconut milk mixture and bring to boil.
8. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the pumpkin is tender and chicken meat is cooked throughout.
9. Ladle into a bowl and garnish with Thai Basil. Serve with steamed Jasmine Rice or your favourite rice.

If you're health conscious, you can use evaporated milk instead of coconut milk. What I did before was to use Virgin Coconut Oil to cook the curry paste. Then I add in evaporated milk. This gives you the fragrant coconut flavour and creamy gravy. You can adjust the hotness of Curry Paste to your liking if you prefer.



  1. The Coconut Milk adds a lovely taste to the curries & I love it! Lovely flavors.

  2. eh you got it all wrong! you have to cook the coconut cream until it splits, its called cracking the coconut. then you fry your curry paste in the oil that just came out of the cream. and never add fish sauce in the beginning, the thai season with fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar, at the end. thats their "salt and pepper". You cant cook lime juice or fish sauce really, in the case of a curry.

  3. Hi Soma- yes,I agreed with you. Coconut milk adds another dimension to curries.

  4. Hi Anonymous,

    Firstly, for health purpose, I didn't heat up the coconut milk until it turned oily and use the oil to fry the paste. The purpose of Coconut Milk and added in the last stage of cooking was to make the dish creamy and not for the oil. If you read from beginning of the cooking steps, there's already some oil used for cooking the chicken meat. I want this dish light and not laden with oil. Besides, for my own preference, I used Virgin Coconut Oil in this recipe which IS already coconut oil itself, derived from Fresh Coconut Milk when I fried the curry paste. It tasted much better and more fragrant than cooking in the oil separated from the coconut cream. You must try cooking with Virgin Coconut Oil :-)

    I did add the seasoning (with the coconut milk) last and bring the gravy to a boil before serving. If you read Thai and Southeast Asian cookbooks, you may find that you can cook lime juice, tamarind juice, fish sauce and bring to a boil in curries or until the curry thickens before serving; for example in Mussaman Curry. I usually seasoned my meals as I cook along. If not enough salty, sour or sweet, there're bottles of seasonings on stand by, ya ( just like Thai street food) :-D

    If I did break the taboo of seasoning my Thai cooking in the beginning and cooked fish sauce and lime juice in curry, my Thai ancestors would forgive me :-D

    Khob pun maak kha for commenting in my blog.

  5. A very nice header for your blog, pixen :)

  6. Chicekn curry .. a family favorite. Got to try your recipe next time.

  7. Try this Thai cooking website.
    www.thaifoodtonight.comIt's got about 30 recipes each one with a cooking video to go along.
    There's a recipe for Pumpkin Custard dessert which is great

  8. CK - hey, how are you? Thank you :-)

  9. Salut, Laura - Do give me some feedback ok? Don't forget to adjust the amount of Red Curry Paste to your preference.

  10. Hello Hamster - you got a cute ID! Yep, I knew about Geefay's Productions years ago before I started blogging.

    The Pumpkin dessert you referred to is SangKaya Fakthong. It's one of my family's favourite too which you can't and maybe seldom find in restaurants because it's time consuming, lots of patience and lots of prayers that the pumpkin doesn't bursts its seams and the custard inside and the pumpkin is thoroughly cooked... No joke about it. That's why you can only have 'Fakthong Gaeng Buad' (Pumpkin chunks in Coconut Milk) which easier to make than the former version.

    Once I asked a Thai restaurant that I frequent to for Sangkaya Fakthong because they only serve Kluay Buad Chee (Bananas in Coconut Milk) and they don't even have Fakthong Gaeng Buad. I even suggested that they can make it as special dessert of the week or the month. Well, until today it's either "It's difficult to do" or "We need to discuss with the chef" huh??? SIghhh....

  11. This is truly delicious comfort food =)

  12. Hi Cynthia - yes, it was. I also double up the Red Curry Paste because I'm used to eat this dish spicier than indicated in recipe. My maternal family are heavy chilli-eaters.

  13. Hello Noobcook! How are you? Your Seafood Tomyam Bee Hoon had me drooling and I just had my dinner! You helped me to decide what to cook for lunch tomorrow! Thank you!

  14. Coconut oil is definitely a better choice than butter. Your curry sounds delicious.

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  16. Ivy ~ yessss... It's true. I usually shunned away from RBD coconut oil and also the oil separated from coconut milk cream... it's usual for Asians to do that to cook spices for curries. Now, with the existing of Virgin Coconut Oil is even better- clear (not yellowish or brownish), very coconuty aroma and has medicinal value. You can drink it and also use it for cooking. I'm planning to make some after I return from my travel. Coconut is much cheaper back in my hometown.

  17. Never heard of virgin coconut oil, but sounds worthy of trying. Another great curry recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Is it weird that I have palm sugar in the pantry but not brown sugar? :)

  19. Merhaba Nihal - I'm new to this coconut oil too. Most of the time I heard it's for beauty products. Then later on, it's used as alternative medicine besides cooking! I think it's an amazing natural product and I'd been thinking of making some instead of buying from the links I found. Maybe, you can try homemade this Virgin Coconut Oil.

  20. LOL @ Jude - Come on, I won't be surprised at all :-P

  21. I can't even tell you how much I adore pumpkin curry made with coconut milk! It's been ages since I've had it, but this sounds very similar... I would simply use chickpeas instead of chicken. Thanks for reminding me about this wonderful dish, your pictures have me craving it all over again!

  22. I've never heard of virgin coconut milk but I'm going to try to make it. Thanks for the info. I've made soap with coconut oil and it was excellent. Lovely pumpkin curry. I'll have to try it soon.

  23. Hi KC... hahaaaa you made soap too? I did that in school days :-D It was fun indeed! It's one of my favourite essays in Science. In fact, the question came out for my GCE 'O' Level :-)

  24. Hello, I made your curry last night and it was wonderful. I did use Virgin Coconut Oil for the cooking oil. I left out the chicken (I had a pumpkin that was over 1000 grams on its own) and used vegetarian fish sauce instead of regular fish sauce since I am a strict vegetarian. This was very lovely and your mix of spices really brought out the flavor of the pre-made curry paste.

  25. i loved this curry! I added a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter and used panang curry paste instead of the red paste. Other changes to try - add some cauliflower and shrimp. It is deeelish!!

  26. "Na thahn kha!" Looking forward to trying your recipe but if I can find fresh makrud lime leaves (a.k.a. kaffir lime but I prefer not to use this name because of its negative connotation - please refer to Wikipedia for more information), I will chiffonade and use them in place of the Thai basil; this is how the dish was often presented to me in Thailand and the makrud lime flavour is exquisitely aromatic - do try them! Tapis Lemma, Manukau, New Zealand

  27. Hi, Tapis Lemma, thank you for the info. Yes, you can use the leaves as well to add extra 'zing' for this recipe. Just like what I did for my Curry Chicken with Kaffir Lime Leaves.

    In Southeast Asia, when we mentioned kaffir limes, it's automatically known as Makrud or Som Makrud. Even in Thai-English cooking books and Chefs around the world used the same term. Never once in our Southeast Asian minds that it's a derogatory term. Besides, I did discovered if I said 'Makrud' (or even 'Manao'), most non-native Thai speakers don't know what it was but mentioned 'Kaffir Lime' they knew instantly. Anyway, point noted :-)

    For those who wanted to know more about the conflicts with the term, you can read 'Kaffir Lime' and 'Kaffir'.

    Now, I wonder if one of my favourite drink 'Kefir' is offensive as well :-D

  28. What does "nos" (next to shallots and limes) mean? Thanks!

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  30. Hi Anonymous (AUGUST 5, 2010 3:28 AM)

    The "nos" means Numbers... It's a rough guide to quantity as sometimes the size or weight of ingredients are not the same. For example; Shallots come in several varieties... In this recipe, you can use the longer Shallots or Asian shallots (Small reddish purple onions, commonly used in Asian cookery).

    The difference of amount for the paste in this recipe will not change much the taste (it's not like in baking, you need precise measurement). As you cook this recipe frequently, you will change the taste and amount of ingredients as you go along to suit your taste. Still, I want to thank you for bringing up the matter. If there's anything you like to know, don't hesitate to post your message and thank you so much for visiting my blog :-)

  31. Love all ingredients here. The pcs are mouthwatering

  32. Hola Sylvia... Thank you for the compliment :-) I really like this recipe because you can cook it as vegetarian dish. Your spice-loving vegetarian friends will love it. Try to find Vegetarian fish sauce and vegetarian mock chicken meat made from soya beans or even chick peas. If you can't find vegetarian fish sauce, there's a topic on homemade Vegetarian Fish sauce> and in Chowhound>

  33. Oh i love this curry. I remember last summer we spent in Thailand. I was lucky enough to taste almost all the famous foods there.

  34. For newbies like me, it would be really helpful if you added approximate cooking times. Simmering right now, and smells great so far!


  35. Hi Matt, thanks for informing me and trying out the recipe. Point noted :-) For this recipe and recipes using squash or pumpkin, sometimes it's difficult to estimate the cooking time as it depends on the type pumpkin uses - some pumpkins let out lots of liquid when cook and some lesser like Kabocha for example. (Kabocha is always my favorite in cooking especially in dessert like Sangkaya Fakthong)

    What I usually did was to test the doneness by using fork or a tester. I like mine less mushy but some people may like it slightly overcook. I hope this helps to gauge the time for this recipe. Thank you for visiting me. Bon Appétit!

  36. Hello @ Foreclosure Freeze... glad you like Thai cuisine :-) Indeed Thai cuisine is getting more exposure these days. Thanks for visiting ;-)

  37. Thanks for this post! Pictures look very tasty and sumptuous! Please keep this post coming...

  38. This recipe was perfect! I received so many compliments- I doubled it for a party of 6. Perfect amount, perfect taste! Thank you!

    1. Thank you for trying and sharing with your friends! :-)


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