Butternut Squash and Chickpea Coconut Curry

I am in love with spices – turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel and fenugreek seeds, cardamom – mix some together and it is an aromatic elixir. I like to make my own garam masala or curry powder, using google of course 🙂 I might add in a spice or leave something out but that is as creative as I get, for now. It is best to buy seeds and not pre-ground spices (unless it is turmeric or something else) so that you can roast and then grind them yourself when you need it for a dish. You will get the best taste not to mention amazing aroma when you roast fresh whole spices and use them whole or grind them yourself. I love, love heat so I make my dishes pretty darn spicy.

I was browsing online for slow cooker recipes as I wanted to make something other than butternut squash and kale quesadillas. Those were delicious but of course I forgot to take pictures, therefore I must make them again. No, I did not forget because I was tipsy, I was probably ravenous 😉 Anyway, I found this interesting and healthy recipe. I had butternut squash and kale and this was a chance to use my masala dabba.

I happened upon this masala dabba (while I was browsing recipes of course) and decided I had to have one. So, last year, I requested one for my birthday from Mr. sci-fi loving, online guy. I just came up with that name for my husband because we watch a lot of sci-fi and he is almost always online. I enjoy sci-fi and am watching season after season of Farscape. Can’t get enough! I received this beautiful masala dabba, which I picked of course, for my 27th birthday 😉 Ha! I will be forever 27… *I say that as I groan and hold my back getting up from the couch*

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Observe the beautiful gold design!

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The spices I have in my dabba are turmeric (in the middle), coriander seeds at 12:00. Fenugreek seeds at 2:00. Brown mustard seeds at 4:00, Black cardamom seeds at 6:00. Cumin seeds at 8:00 and fennel seeds at 10:00. Black cardamom has a smoky flavor as opposed to the sweet-spicy taste and lemony flavor of green cardamom. Green cardamom can be used in dessert recipes also whereas black cardamom is used only in savory dishes (unless one likes to experiment and create, say a smoky tasting ice-cream or cake). There are so many interesting spices that you would need to experiment for yourselves.

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I know you see 2 cans of chickpeas (the author used dry) in that picture but I really only used one. Believe me, this dish will feed a lot of people, especially if you eat it with rice or naan.

This recipe called for a curry powder so I made my own, taken from Alton Brown.

I love his show “Good Eats”. There is an episode called “The Curious Case of Curry”. Watch it and you will be all spiced up 🙂

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons whole cardamom seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds, toasted
1/4 cup ground turmeric
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon cayenne

Place all ingredients in a container with an airtight lid. Shake to combine. Store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months. When ready to use, grind and add to dishes according to taste.

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This is what my fresh curry powder looked like.

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It may look like a cold mess but aren’t the colors pretty? In went everything but the chickpeas, kale and peas as those will turn to mush if you cook them for 4 hours. Add them 30-45 minutes before the time is up.

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Mix it all together and let this baby cook on high for 4 hours. In the meantime, cook your rice, make some raita or just chill.

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Add the kale, canned chickpeas and frozen peas and look at it with love. Get a whiff of the spices, really inhale that. And dig in!

Recipe taken from Tasty Yummies

Butternut Squash & Chickpea Coconut Curry (Crock Pot Recipe)
serves 8

2 1/2 cups diced butternut squash
1 1/2 cups dried organic chick peas
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can 13.5 ounce organic coconut milk (you can use light here, I didn’t)
1 bunch of fresh spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped (you could also use kale here)
1 1/2 cups freshly shelled peas (you can use frozen here, if you wish)
1-2 large tomatoes, diced
3 cups vegetable broth or water
3 tablespoons yellow curry powder (you can use your own blend of spices here, I just happen to have a premixed curry powder from a local indian grocery store that I love)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (save some for serving)

Rinse and sort through the dry chickpeas. Cut the skin off the squash, remove seeds and cut into 1 inch square cubes. Add all the ingredients to your slow cooker besides the peas and spinach. Cook on high for 6 hours. About 20-30 minutes before serving add in the fresh peas and spinach, and give it a stir. If your sauce seems to be a bit too thin or watery when it is done cooking, you could make a quick mix of cornstarch and hot water and pour a tablespoon or two of the mixture into the crock pot, allow it to simmer a bit longer. This will thicken it right up.

Serve over brown basmati or jasmine rice topped with fresh cilantro, mint or basil and maybe even some shredded coconut.

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