Thai Pumpkin Curry with Chickpeas — An EASY curry that’s ready in 30 minutes! Tender fresh pumpkin, chickpeas, bell peppers, spinach, and more all bathed in the most aromatic Thai-inspired coconut milk broth! If you love Thai food, skip the restaurant and make this better-than-takeout curry at home!
Quick Thai Pumpkin Chickpea Curry Recipe
I am the queen of Thai-inspired coconut curries. I have a whole slew of them on my site.
Among the most popular is this Thai Chicken Coconut Curry, Green Thai Chicken Coconut Curry, and my Yellow Thai Chicken Coconut Curry. Once I realized how much you all loved the red one, I made green, and then yellow.
Today’s pumpkin curry reminds me a lot of my Sweet Potato and Chickpea Coconut Curry.
This pumpkin curry is easy to make and ready in 30 minutes yet has such fabulous depth of flavor your friends and family will be convinced that you spent all day on it.
So healthy yet hearty with tender chunks of pumpkin, chickpeas, bell peppers, spinach, cilantro, and lime juice for layers of incredible flavor.
Everything is drenched in the most flavorful and aromatic coconut milk-based red Thai curry sauce. It’s so flavorful and truly my favorite part of any curry and is comprised of a combination of red curry paste, ginger, coriander, cumin, and more.
You’d never guess that naturally vegan and gluten-free comfort food can taste so amazing!
Ingredients in Thai Pumpkin Curry
To make this Thai pumpkin chickpea curry , you’ll need a lot of ingredients. None are difficult to find and they do all serve a purpose.
If you’re thinking about making substitutions or wondering what you can sway, there’s more on that below.
But for now, get out the following easy-to-find ingredients:
- Coconut oil (or another cooking oil)
- Yellow onion
- Bell peppers
- Small red chile, jalapeno, or serrano chile; optional
- Ginger (ground or fresh)
- Ground coriander and cumin
- Fresh pumpkin (notes to follow)
- Thai red curry paste
- Low-sodium broth (vegetable or chicken), or water (I used water)
- Canned coconut milk
- Bay or kaffir lime leaves, optional
- Fresh spinach
- Lime juice
- Soy sauce (or fish sauce, if not vegan)
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Brown sugar
- Fresh cilantro
- Nuts, optional for garnishing
How to Make Thai Pumpkin Curry
To a large, high-sided skillet, add the coconut oil, onion, and sauté for a few minutes until it turns translucent before adding the various bell peppers and optional chiles. If you’re looking for more heat and spiciness, add them but if not, omit.
Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, Thai red curry paste, stir to combine, and cook momentarily until fragrant.
Now add the uncooked chunks of pumpkin, stir to coat them in the curry paste and spices, add the broth or water, coconut milk, optional bay or lime leaves, and allow the pumpkin to tenderize for about 8 to 10 minutes. It will depend on the size of your pieces and the type of pumpkin.
Optionally, you can remove about 1 cup of the curry mixture — onions, peppers, pumpkin — and puree it in a blender if you want a smoother curry. Or, you can do this in the skillet with an immersion blender.
Pureeing is optional and based on personal preference. I like a chunkier more texture-laden curry, but if you want it smoother, puree as desired. Add in your pureed mixture if you removed some.
Otherwise, continue by simply adding in the chickpeas, spinach, lime juice, soy sauce, salt and pepper, and allow the mixture to simmer momentarily until the spinach wilts. It won’t take long at all!
Taste the mixture and optionally add a bit of brown sugar. I always do because it balances the acidity of the peppers, lime, and gives overall balance and more depth of flavor. It’s like adding a pinch of sugar to spaghetti sauce like Italian cooks always do.
Toss in the fresh cilantro, optional nuts, stir, and get ready to dive into your hearty Thai red pumpkin curry.
What Type of Pumpkin Should I Buy?
If you’ve never cooked a pumpkin before, not to worry. It’s easy, like cooking a squash or even sweet potatoes, and in this recipe we’re doing it all in one skillet on the stovetop.
For cooking, you’ll want to use sugar pumpkins, which may also be called pie pumpkin or sweet pumpkins. They are small and round.
Long Island Cheese pumpkins, which are more oblong and can look like a wheel of cheese, can also be suitable.
However, make sure you don’t try to cook with the same type of pumpkin you carve and set out for Halloween. The flesh of those has a stringy undesirable texture and normally they are much larger than pumpkins to eat.
Since pumpkins and produce varies widely regionally, investigate what you can get your hands on in your area and do some research online.
By and large in the US it should be fairly easy to source a sugar or pie pumpkin this time of year in most well-stocked grocery stores.
Can the Pumpkin Be Substituted?
Yes! If you can’t get your hands on pumpkin, use sweet potato or squash such as butternut or acorn instead.
Can I Add Extra Protein?
Yes! Here are my suggestions for boosting the protein in this pumpkin curry recipe:
- If you’re looking to bump up the protein content, you can add a second can of chickpeas.
- Or, you can add raw chicken breast cubes when you add the raw pumpkin cubes.
- Or, at the end when you add the spinach, you can add previously cooked shredded chicken.
Can I Use Curry Powder Instead of Curry Paste?
In a word, no, I wouldn’t substitute one for the other. In this Thai pumpkin curry, like in all my other red curry recipes, I used Thai red curry paste. It adds a richer and smoother flavor profile than curry powder (Indian) does.
However if, all you have is curry powder, and you still want to go for it knowing that Thai vs. Indian curry products are vastly different and your dish won’t taste like mine.
What Kind Of Coconut Milk Is Best?
Full-fat canned coconut milk will give you a much richer overall mouthfeel, texture, and the dish will simply taste better than using lite canned coconut milk, although it will work.
Make sure to use coconut milk that comes in a can and not the kind in a carton in the refrigerated section of your grocery.
Also, do not confuse canned coconut milk with cream of coconut that also comes in a can, which is extremely sweet and better suited for a piña colada than a curry.
Additionally, don’t try to use another milk — cashew, soy, cow’s, etc. — instead of canned coconut milk and expect it to resemble a proper coconut curry.
Recipe Variations to Try
The wonderful thing about curries is that you can add whatever vegetables or legumes you like.
- Sweet potatoes
- Acorn squash
- Butternut squash
- Frozen peas
- Kale rather than spinach
- Basil rather than cilantro
- Or whatever you have in your produce drawer or freezer!
Tips for the Best Pumpkin Curry
As with all curry pastes and powders, they vary in intensity and everyone’s preferences for spice and heat vary, so adjust to taste. I used essentially the entire 4-ounce jar or Thai red curry paste and I wouldn’t call it the spicy because of it.
There is heat to my curry because I used a bit of green serrano chile which is hotter than jalapeno. Red chiles vary wildly in their heat level from mild to wild.
But as far as curry paste itself, I don’t find the Thai Kitchen brand to be spicy, rather it provides depth of flavor.
Something I love about most curry recipes is that the flavors deepen as the leftovers sit in the fridge.
So feel free to make a batch of curry before a busy work week to enjoy later on.
Additionally, curries freeze very well so this would be a great meal prep recipe. Make it, portion it into freezer-safe containers, and you’ll have some handy dinners or work or school lunches waiting for you.
When chopping the raw pumpkin into chunks, make sure to keep them in the 1/2-inch size range or it will take much longer for them to cook through.
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- 2 to 3 tablespoons coconut oil (olive or vegetable oil may be substituted)
- 1 medium/large sweet Vidalia or yellow onion, diced small
- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced into thin strips
- 1 small yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and diced into thin strips
- 1 small red chile pepper, jalapeno, or serrano chile, seeded and diced finely with seeds removed; optional
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
- 2 to 3 teaspoons ground ginger or 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 medium sugar pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and diced into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 to 4 1/2 cups total, diced* See Notes)
- 2 to 6 tablespoons Thai red curry paste, to taste **
- 2 cups low-sodium broth (vegetable or chicken) or water (I used water)
- one 14-ounce can coconut milk (full-fat will deliver a richer/thicker result, lite is ok)
- 2 or 3 bay or kaffir lime leaves, optional
- one 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I used no-salt added)
- about 3 cups fresh spinach leaves (heaping handful)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon soy or fish sauce, optional and to taste
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar, optional and to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped for garnishing (basil may be substituted)
- Nuts (cashews, peanuts, etc.), optional for garnishing
- To a large high-sided skillet, add the oil, onion, and sauté over medium-high heat until the onion begins to soften and turn a bit translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes; stir intermittently.
- Add the bell peppers, optional chile, and continue sautéing for about 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender; stir intermittently.
- Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant; stir almost constantly.
- Add the pumpkin, and stir to coat it with the spices.
- Add the Thai red curry paste, broth, coconut milk, bay or lime leaves, turn the heat to medium-low, and bring to a gentle simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender and cooked through. Tip - Make sure to keep your pumpkin chunks in the 1/2-inch size range or it will take much longer for them to cook through.
- Optionally and if you prefer a smoother curry, remove about 1 cup of the softened pumpkin, peppers, and onion mixture (make sure not to grab a bay or lime leaf), add it to a blender, puree, and add the puree back into the curry. Alternatively, you can do this with a handheld immersion blender in the skillet if desired. I don't tend to puree at all because I like the texture, but do as you prefer.
- Remove the bay or lime leaves from the skillet if you added them.
- Add the chickpeas, spinach, lime juice, optional soy or fish sauce, salt and pepper, stir to incorporate, and allow the spinach leaves to wilt, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Taste the curry and optionally add the brown sugar (recommended because it helps balance the acidity and adds overall depth of flavor). If desired, add additional curry paste, salt, pepper, etc. to taste.
- Add the cilantro, stir to combine, optional nuts, and serve with rice, naan bread, etc.
- Curry will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months. The flavors marry over time in the fridge and I find the the curry tastes better after a day or two in the fridge; reheat gently before serving.
*Choosing the pumpkin: You want to use sugar pumpkins, which may also be called pie pumpkin or sweet pumpkins. They are small and round.
Long Island Cheese pumpkins, which are more oblong and can look like a wheel of cheese, can also be suitable.
Make sure you don't try to cook with the same type of pumpkin you carve and set out for Halloween. The flesh of those has a stringy undesirable texture and normally they are much larger than pumpkins to eat.
Since pumpkins and produce varies widely regionally, investigate what you can get your hands on in your area, do some research online, but by and large in the US it should be fairly easy to source a sugar or pie pumpkin this time of year in most well-stocked grocery stores.
Pumpkin substitute: If you can't get your hands on pumpkin, use sweet potato or squash such as butternut or acorn instead.
**Curry paste: As with all curry pastes and powders, they vary in intensity and everyone’s preferences for spice and heat vary, so adjust to taste. I used essentially the entire 4-ounce jar or Thai red curry paste and I wouldn’t call it the spicy because of it. You can always start with less and add more, to taste if desired, towards the end.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 431Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1188mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 10gSugar: 11gProtein: 14g
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