Thinking of doing a vegan challenge like Beyonce and Jay Z? Curry is one of our go-to easy dinner ideas, and this authentic Sri Lankan pumpkin curry recipe is so quick to make, it’s ready in under 30 minutes. A great recipe for when you want to go meat-free or have vegan or vegetarian friends over.

Recipes and images from Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka by Bree Hutchins, Published by Murdoch Books, RRP: $49.99

This thick, creamy curry, made with tender chunks of pumpkin, is enhanced by a burst of flavour from tempered onions, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Tempering is a method used often in Sri Lankan cooking and is a great way to increase the flavours of a curry. The technique involves frying onions, mustard seeds, sometimes fenugreek or cumin seeds, and curry leaves in oil until they are brown, slightly crisp and aromatic. This mixture is added to the curry just before it is served.

Serves 4–6 



750 g Jap pumpkin, seeded and cut into 5–6 cm pieces (skin left on)
4 small pink Asian shallots, sliced
2 thin green chillies, cut into thirds
1 sprig curry leaves, leaves picked and roughly chopped
8 cm piece rampe (pandanus) leaf, cut into 2 cm pieces
1 teaspoon unroasted chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons Manike’s thuna paha (or store-bought roasted curry powder)
1 teaspoon salt
500 ml coconut milk
250 ml coconut cream

For tempering

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 small pink Asian shallots, sliced
1 sprig curry leaves, leaves picked


1. To make the curry, place the pumpkin into a clay pot or heavy-based saucepan, add the rest of the curry ingredients and mix to combine. There should be just enough coconut milk and cream to cover the pumpkin pieces.

2. Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10–12 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender, stirring the curry occasionally so the coconut milk does not split. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. For tempering, heat the coconut oil in a small wok or frying pan over medium heat and add the mustard seeds. When the seeds start to pop, add the shallots and curry leaves and cook for 3–5 minutes, or until the shallots are dark brown and starting to crisp a little. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve. Stir half of the tempered mixture into the curry and garnish with the remaining mixture. Serve with pol roti and rice.


What’s your favourite curry?

Want More?

Have our best reads delivered straight to your inbox every week by subscribing to our newsletter.



You Said


Win 10K cash
Win a holiday to Bali