Something Different
Week of: February 20, 2012
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This Curry Has a Surprise

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

To borrow from Raghavan Iyer, the Indian chef and author of 660 Curries, a curry is "any dish of meat, poultry, seafood, legumes, vegetables or fruits simmered in or cooked with a sauce that is very fragrant with spices and/or herbs."

Indeed, rather than a dish, for me, making curry is a way of cooking – a smart and healthy way of cooking, if you use fat modestly, spices liberally, and focus on vegetarian ingredients. Curries are, in fact, one of the best ways to serve meatless dishes with big, enticing flavor, eye-pleasing color and an appealing variety of textures. Preparing curry lets you be deliciously creative, too.

Roasting butternut squash and puréeing part of it with coconut, almond or soy milk and chipotle chile makes this curry unusual. Combined with chunky vegetables and chickpeas, the result is a creamy, bright dish.

This recipe does have a longish list of ingredients, but supermarkets sell most of them already chopped, including the butternut squash, carrots, onions, sweet red pepper and broccoli florets for this meatless dish. Canned beans add protein and require simply opening a can. To get maximum flavor, this recipe does not call for toasting and grinding whole spices, as Indian cooks do. But I do not use curry powder either, because tasting the result convinced me that using individual ground spices, in a combination that most enhances the flavors of the other ingredients, is worth the minute needed to measure them out.

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry

  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups cubed butternut squash, 1" cubes
  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 small to medium rutabaga, peeled and chopped, 1" cubes
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup refrigerated plain coconut milk (see Note)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. ground chipotle chile, or to taste
  • 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or use no-salt added)
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli, 1-inch florets
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In small bowl, combine cumin, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper and salt and set aside.

Spread squash on baking sheet and coat liberally with cooking spray. Roast squash until soft, 30 minutes, stirring once.

While squash bakes, heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions, rutabaga and carrot; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, 4 minutes. Mix in garlic and combined spices, stirring until they smell fragrant, 1 minute. Pour in broth. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are just tender, 12-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place roasted squash in blender. Add coconut milk and chipotle chili, and whirl to a smooth purée. If mixture is thicker than a puréed soup, add water, 1/2 cup at a time. Add purée to the cooking vegetables.

Add chickpeas, broccoli and bell pepper to the pot and simmer, uncovered, until curry is creamy, about 6 -10 minutes. Broccoli should be bright green and crisp tender. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve immediately.

Note: You can also use plain soy or almond milk, or lowfat dairy milk.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 212 calories, 4 g fat (<1 g sat fat), 39 g carbohydrates,
9 g protein, 6 g fiber, 544 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

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