This sublime Indian pumpkin curry recipe is a wonderfully tasty gluten-free and vegan meal and a healthy way to use up some of this nutritious vegetable (actually a fruit!) during pumpkin season! It’s rich with sweet and savoury flavours, underpinned with bitter notes from nigella seeds and sourness from tangy tamarind. Perfect for fussy children who will enjoy the tasty but mild, non-spicy flavour. Even those who don't like pumpkin find they love this curry so definitely give it a try!
If you are working through a load of pumpkin this season (see my other pumpkin recipes here), this is the perfect fall recipe for you! Curry is really one of the most delicious ways to use pumpkin in a savoury dish as the flavours just go so well together! (I also love this pumpkin and sweetcorn soup for another savoury option!).
Why You Will Love This Vegan Pumpkin Curry
- Extremely tasty but mild enough to be enjoyed by the whole family.
- Comes together very quickly and easily (especially if you already have prepped pumpkin in the freezer – see below for tips on this).
- Pumpkin is usually fairly inexpensive (given the size of it!) so this is a great way to economically feed a crowd.
- Pumpkin is full of nutrients, especially vitamin A.
- Naturally vegan (and vegetarian) and gluten-free.
I developed this easy pumpkin curry recipe one evening while tinkering around in the kitchen trying to put something together for the family supper. I was not expecting such a successful meal as, let’s face it, pumpkin is not high on the list of kids’ favourites! But amazingly, even my fussiest child loved this curry and it has since been a firm family favourite each Autumn. (My kids have asked to have this pumpkin curry with black rice on Halloween night so that the rice will turn their mouths black!).
This delicious pumpkin curry recipe is based on the Indian curry, known as “Kaddu ki Sabzi” in North India. It is usually a dry curry recipe but I like a lot of sauce with my curries so there is plenty to mix with the rice and to mop up with poppadoms, so this version is a little more saucy than the original! Indian cuisine is characterized by strong flavours and spices. This recipe is similarly strongly spiced but is a mild version of the original Indian pumpkin curry since it is designed for family cooking. When I cook for my family with young children, I temper the heat by using less (or no) chilli in the pot and then just add extra to my own plate instead.
This pumpkin curry is perfect for family meals as the sweetness of the pumpkin is balanced by bitter nigella seeds and tangy sour tamarind puree and dry mango powder (or lime or lemon juice if easier) to make a wonderfully warming tasty meal that everyone will enjoy!
I have added frozen green beans into this curry as an extra vegetable and for a little more protein (and greens). I like using frozen vegetables in saucy dishes like this as you don’t need to worry about vegetables going rotten in the fridge because they are frozen at their freshest point and they are there in the freezer ready for whenever you need them.
Did you know that, like tomatoes, pumpkin is technically a fruit? (due to the fact that it has seeds).
Pumpkins are extremely nutritious, being rich in vitamins and minerals (and particularly vitamin A) and fibre but relatively low in calories. The exceptional array of antioxidants in pumpkin can help your eyesight, skin and immune system and even help to reduce the risk of certain illnesses and diseases. (Read this Healthline article and this Medical News Today article for more detail on the health benefits of pumpkin).
Good news for any keto fans out there too… due to its high fibre content, pumpkin is considered to be both low carb and keto-friendly as well! So this vegan pumpkin curry recipe is perfect for keto and low-carb vegans as well!
- Onion, garlic, ginger, green chili (optional), coconut oil – the backbone of any good curry! Just leave out the green chili if cooking for children (or if you don't like spicy food).
- Curry powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, salt – this curry is subtly spiced with the basic Indian spices (and is just as good if you choose to go without chilli to be child-friendly). You could also add a teaspoon of garam masala powder if you want a stronger curry flavour!
- Grated fresh pumpkin – you can use any type of squash you have available. I often make this with the normal large yellow pumpkin that you find in October for halloween but it is divine when made with a fancier type of pumpkin like Japanese (kabocha) pumpkin or my favourite, Crown Prince Squash. Butternut squash will also work well if pumpkin is not available. If you prefer, you could chop pumpkin cubes instead but it will need a little longer cooking time and the curry will have a different texture. My children wouldn’t eat cubes of pumpkin so grated works best in our household! I find that mashed pumpkin or canned pumpkin puree do not work in this recipe as it does not have enough flavour and it makes the sauce too mushy. For shortcuts, you are far better off going for frozen pumpkin cubes instead.
- Vegetable stock and coconut milk – this is the liquid sauce element of the curry. You can use a normal vegetable stock powder mixed with water, like Kallo or Bouillon. It is important to use coconut milk rather than coconut cream. The latter is too thick and rich for this curry.
- Nigella seeds – also known as black cumin seeds, these are little bitter seeds that provide a wonderful background bitter note to the curry. You could use celery seeds or cumin seeds if you can’t find nigella seeds.
- Tamarind paste – this is a paste from the tamarind fruit which has a wonderful tangy flavour and perfectly balances the other flavours of the curry. You could try using pomegranate molasses or just add a pinch of sugar and some lime juice.
- Dry mango powder – (also known as amchur powder) – this is not essential but adds another layer of tartness and slight sweetness to the curry. If you don’t have this, just leave it out and your curry will still taste great. Or you could use a teaspoon of lemon or lime juice instead.
- Curry leaves – These add a lovely curried flavour but I know they are difficult to find in the shops so don’t worry if you don’t have any – they are not essential. Having said that, if you do see curry leaves in a shop, buy a big bag of them and keep the bag in the freezer. You can just chuck the curry leaves into the pan straight from the freezer.
- Green Beans - I make this with frozen green beans because I like to add some greens to our meals and it is quick and easy to use frozen green beans. It also keeps it as a one pot meal. You could use frozen cauliflower florets instead or even some fresh courgette (zucchini), sliced into half moons and fried with the onions.
Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for full list of ingredients and their quantities.
This Indian pumpkin curry recipe is super simple and happily bubbles away by itself for most of the cooking time.
- In a heavy bottom pan, sauté the onion in oil for 5 minutes until soft.
- Then, add the garlic, green chilli, ginger and curry leaves (if using) and stir over the heat for another 1 minute.
- Add the spices and stir for 30-45 seconds until fragrant.
- Stir in the pumpkin and add the rest of the ingredients except the dried mango powder and the green beans.
- Put the lid on and simmer over a low heat for 40-45 minutes.
- Add the dried mango powder and green beans for the final 5 minutes.
This is a summary only. Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this page for full instructions. Instant Pot and Thermomix instructions are also included in the recipe card.
How To Chop a Pumpkin
Pumpkins are quite unwieldy vegetables, especially the really huge ones that can be difficult to even get a knife into! I try to use medium sized or small pumpkins for that reason.
You can actually cook pumpkin with the skin on and eat the skin (same goes for butternut squash) if you cook it long enough. That obviously reduces the prep time and also adds to the nutrient content (since many nutrients are stored just under the skin of fruits and vegetables).
- If you intend to cook with the skin on, then wash the pumpkin really well to remove any bits of soil and dirt.
- Set the pumpkin on a chopping board so that it is sitting firmly. Then take a large sharp knife and cut down through the middle of the pumpkin. You need strong arms for this! Then rotate the pumpkin around a little and do the same cutting down to cut out a wedge of the pumpkin. You can continue around cutting the pumpkin into long wedges.
- Next, remove the seeds and stringy bits from the pumpkin wedges. If you like, you can separate the pumpkin seeds from the stringy bits and mix them with some salt and seasonings and a little oil, and then air fry or oven roast them for 10 minutes until crispy. They are delicious!
- Lie each wedge on its side on the chopping board so that it is flat and stable. Then, if you want to peel the pumpkin, use a knife to carefully cut down slices of the skin away from the edge of the wedge, cutting down to the chopping board.
- After that, you can cut the wedges into chunks.
Since pumpkins are usually fairly large, I rarely find I need a whole pumpkin for a recipe. So, if I need part of a pumpkin, I will usually cut the whole thing into chunks and then store whatever is not needed in a bag in the freezer for another time. I have a grater attachment for my kitchen aid machine so sometimes I just grate the whole lot for storing in the freezer so that it takes up less space! (paid affiliate links)
Serve this pumpkin curry with some basmati rice (or cauliflower rice), and sprinkle a little more nigella seeds and fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) on top. You could also serve it with plant-based raita, mango chutney and poppadoms or Indian flat breads for a true feast! Delicious!
There are lots of substitutions you can make with this vegan pumpkin curry recipe to make it your own.
- Substitute the green beans with cauliflower florets (add 10 minutes before the end so that they cook through) or courgette, cut into half moons, (fried after the onions and garlic) or add other vegetables as well. Baby spinach is another great addition to this curry (stir it into the sauce at the end until it wilts down).
- If you’re cooking for children, you may want to leave out the chili. This is how I cook this dish for our family and then I add some chili to my own plate instead.
- You could chop the pumpkin into chunks instead of grating it, but I find this does not go down well with the children who prefer the pumpkin to be more hidden in the sauce. If you do decide to cut it into chunks instead, then it will need a little longer to cook. Cook for as long as it takes until the chunks are soft when you push a fork through them. The larger the chunks, the longer you will need to cook it for.
- The curry leaves and dried mango powder are not essential. They are really tasty but if you don’t have them at home, just leave them out. It will still be a delicious meal.
- Tamarind paste gives a pleasant tartness to counter-balance the sweetness of the pumpkin. If you can’t find any, then I would suggest using pomegranate molasses or perhaps some lime juice instead.
- If you do not have nigella seeds, mustard seeds would also work well to provide that bitterness. Add the same amount but add them to the pan with the garlic, chilli and ginger.
Of course, if you really hate pumpkin, then this curry might not be the one for you! It can be substituted for other types of squash (including butternut squash) but if you're not a fan, why not try one of my other curries, like this amazing family-friendly Mung Bean Curry or my Indonesian Jackfruit Curry instead?
Be careful when handling large amounts of raw pumpkin (like dissecting and prepping a whole pumpkin). The beta-carotene in the pumpkin can stain your hands slightly orange for a few days.
Also, like many squashes, the pumpkin can ooze out a sort of juice or sap that can cause irritation and peeling of the skin on your hands. The effects are not dangerous and are only temporary but it is worth avoiding as it does make your hands feel quite strange and can be a little uncomfortable – it feels like the skin has shrunk on them!
So it is best to wear protective gloves or wash your hands frequently while prepping the pumpkin (much like you would when handling raw beetroot).
Making Ahead, Leftovers & Storage
As with all curries, this Indian pumpkin curry improves with time. The flavours deepen and meld together beautifully. This vegan curry will keep perfectly happily in the fridge for 3-4 days so you can make it in advance and store until you need it.
You should leave the green beans out until you’re ready to re-heat it, so follow the steps up to step 5 and then put it in the fridge and re-heat, and carry on from step 6 when you're ready to serve it.
You can also store this pumpkin curry in the freezer for up to 6 months so I often like to make a big batch of it and store portions in the freezer for an easy vegan meal on another day. Since pumpkins are so large, it's a good way to make use of the pumpkin and reduce its size considerably for storage!
Yes of course! The pressure cooker or Instant Pot (paid affiliate link) will intensify the flavours in less time that it takes to cook on the stove. For Instant Pot instructions, follow the recipe, sautéing in the instant pot instead of a pan. Then when you add the pumpkin and liquids, give it a stir and put the lid on. Seal and set to pressure cook at high pressure for 10 minutes if using grated pumpkin or 15 minutes if using chunks. Once finished, leave it for 2 minutes (just until it stops bubbling frantically) and then do a quick pressure release and open the lid. Add the green beans and dried mango powder, and either sauté for 5 minutes until the beans are cooked.
Frozen pumpkin is great standby to keep in the freezer. Available all year round, you can just add it to the pan straight from the freezer. The taste is not quite as good as fresh pumpkin but it’s a pretty good substitute. Do not use canned pumpkin puree instead as it just does not provide the right flavour or consistency.
📖 Recipe 📖
Vegan Pumpkin Curry with Green Beans (North Indian Style)
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 inch piece of ginger, grated
- 1-2 green chilis (optional), de-seeded and sliced
- 1 small handful of curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne or chili powder (optional)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 450 g pumpkin, peeled and grated
- 200 ml vegetable stock
- 100 ml coconut milk
- 2 teaspoon tamarind paste
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
- 100 g green beans, chopped into 1 inch pieces (or frozen ready cut)
- ½ teaspoon dry mango powder
- Heat the coconut oil in a heavy based pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the onion and sauté over a medium heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes until soft and golden. (You could also do this in the Instant Pot, set to Sauté)1 onion, 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- Add garlic, ginger, green chilli (if using) and curry leaves and stir for 1 minute.3 garlic cloves, 1 inch piece of ginger, 1-2 green chilis (optional), 1 small handful of curry leaves
- Add curry powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, chili powder (if using) and salt. Stir until fragrant (30-45 seconds).1 teaspoon curry powder, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon coriander powder, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon cayenne or chili powder (optional)
- Stir the pumpkin in to coat it in the spice mixture. Then add the stock, coconut milk, tamarind puree and nigella seeds and stir well. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat to low, put the lid on and simmer for 40-45 minutes (stirring occasionally) until the pumpkin is soft and the flavours have blended to a rich sauce. (Or for Instant Pot, close the lid, seal, and set to Pressure Cook on High Pressure for 10 minutes).450 g pumpkin, 200 ml vegetable stock, 100 ml coconut milk, 2 teaspoon tamarind paste, 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
- Add the green beans and dried mango powder and cook for a final 5 minutes with the lid on. (Check the liquid level when you add the green beans. If there is not enough liquid left, you may need to add a little more water or coconut milk to ensure the green beans can cook. If there is too much liquid (your pumpkin was still very fresh and did not soak up as much liquid), boil at a higher heat with the lid off instead.) (For Instant Pot, once cooked, leave for 2 minutes, then do a quick release, add these ingredients and sauté for 5 more minutes).100 g green beans, ½ teaspoon dry mango powder
- Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Garnish with a drizzle of coconut milk (or the cream from the top of the coconut milk), extra nigella seeds and coriander (cilantro)leaves and serve with rice (or cauliflower rice) and maybe some poppadoms or Indian flatbreads, like paratha or roti, too.
- Place the onion, garlic, ginger, green chili and oil to the TM jug and blitz 3 secs / sp. 5. Scrape down the sides with a spatula, then set to 5 mins. / 120°C / sp. 1.2 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 onion, 3 garlic cloves, 1 inch piece of ginger, 1-2 green chilis (optional), 1 small handful of curry leaves
- Add the curry powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, chilli powder, salt and curry leaves, and set to 30 secs. / 120°C / sp. Stir.1 teaspoon curry powder, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon coriander powder, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon cayenne or chili powder (optional)
- Stir the grated pumpkin in with a spatula, making sure to dislodge any bits stuck to the bottom. Then add the vegetable stock, coconut milk, tamarind puree and nigella seeds. Set to 30 secs. / Rev. sp. 2, then set to 40 mins. / 100°C / sp. Rev. 0.5.1 small handful of curry leaves, 450 g pumpkin, 200 ml vegetable stock, 100 ml coconut milk, 2 teaspoon tamarind paste, 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
- Stir in the green beans and dry mango powder with a spatula, then set to 5 mins. / 100°C / sp. Rev. 0.5. (add a little more water if it looks too dry – it should be saucey looking).100 g green beans, ½ teaspoon dry mango powder
- Serve garnished with more nigella seeds and some coriander leaves (cilantro).
- You can substitute the green beans with cauliflower florets or courgette, cut into half moons, or add other vegetables as well. Baby leaf spinach stirred in at the end would be delicious as well!
- The curry leaves and mango powder are not essential. If you don’t have them at home, just leave them out. Tamarind paste gives a pleasant tartness to counter-balance the sweetness of the pumpkin. If you can’t find any, then substitute with pomegranate molasses or perhaps some lime juice.
- If your pumpkin is not very sweet, you might need to add a pinch of sugar to the curry to bring out more of the flavours. Taste and see what you think.
- Remember to wear protective gloves or wash your hands frequently when preparing raw pumpkin to avoid irritation and staining.
- Other condiments to serve with this dish are plant-based raita and mango chutney.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a ⭐ star rating ⭐ on the recipe card!