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Recipe: Karen Squash Curry

Updated: Apr 22, 2021

Last week was definitely an exciting week in the MAKE Projects kitchen as we partnered with the Karen Organization of San Diego for our Family Meal. It was a lot of fun to work with them and explore the culture and cuisine that was new for many of our customers. It was also exciting to work with them to shed a little light on the ongoing political situation in Myanmar. It was definitely a situation where food and politics crossed paths and we were happy to help bring some exposure to it all.

This leads me to our recipe this week which was inspired by our collaboration with the Karen organization. For our meal, we wanted to do our take on a squash curry that a member of KOSD had mentioned. Our challenge was doing it in a large enough quantity to make nearly 60 family-sized meals. Additionally, one of the challenges of working with pumpkins and squash in any kind of stew situation is that they tend to fall apart from the simmering action of the liquid, particularly when done in a large quantity. To get around this we came up with a method for making it in the oven that worked fantastically and was super easy. The gentle heat of the oven cooked everything through while allowing the different squashes to keep their integrity. We hope you enjoy it!

Karen Inspired Pumpkin Curry (Oven Method)

1 Kabocha Squash, cut in 2-inch chunks with skin on

1 Butternut or Acorn Squash, cut in 2-inch chunks

1 Sweet Potato or other hard squash, cut into 2-inch chunks

1 15 oz Can Coconut Cream or Coconut Milk

1 Piece Lemongrass, chopped

1 2 inch piece ginger, peeled

4 Garlic Cloves

1 Tablespoon Curry Powder

¼ Cup Sugar or to taste

3 Tablespoons Lime Juice

3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce or to taste

Salt to taste


  1. Place the lemongrass, ginger, and garlic in a food processor or mortar and pestle and grind to a paste. Set aside.

  2. Place a medium-sized pot over a low flame. Add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom and add the paste you just made.

  3. Cook gently for 3 to 4 minutes until fragrant. Add the curry powder and cook 30 seconds more.

  4. Add approximately 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add a little water if needed if too much cooks away.

  5. Turn off the heat and add the soy sauce and sugar. Taste and adjust seasoning. It should have a lightly salty-sweet flavor.

  6. Place the cut squash in a baking pan large enough to hold in 1 layer. I use hotel pans but you could use a 9x13 pan.

  7. Pour the sauce over the squash. Cover the pan with aluminum foil tightly

  8. Place in a 375 F oven for approximately 45 minutes to an hour. You’ll know its ready when a knife easily pierces through the squash

  9. Carefully remove the foil and allow to cool slightly

  10. Pour over the coconut cream (or coconut milk) and gently shake the pan to combine it with the pan juices. Taste the liquid in the pan and adjust seasoning with lime juice, salt, and sugar.

  11. Serve with rice or on its own!

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