Autumn is such a beautiful time of the year. I love the array of colors and the cooler temperatures. When I think of Fall, I think of caramel apples, foods, and beverages laced with pumpkin spice, soups, hot cocoa, and stews.
People with food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances might remember those foods fondly if they can no longer safely eat them. For example, I used to love hot apple cider and pumpkin pie. But with the clove and vanilla sensitivities in our family, running to the store for a gallon of fresh apple cider isn’t an option. Caramel is made with dairy, and I’ve been unsuccessful in making pumpkin pie without the dairy component.
The good news is that allspice is a great substitute for cloves. And I’m currently working on a pumpkin cheesecake that is free of dairy, eggs, cloves, and gluten.
Autumn was always a favorite time to dine out at my favorite East Indian restaurant. I am a big fan of chili peppers. I love chipotle, New Mexico Hatch green chilis, and poblanos. I loved New Mexican and Mexican cooking rich with chilis, dairy, corn, beans, gluten, and tomatoes. Now they are fond memories.
Of all of these fall favorites, I miss curry. I have been experimenting with East Indian curry without the traditional heat of chili peppers. Fortunately, all the spices but cloves, garlic, and chili peppers were safe. I discovered what I loved about curry was the other spices. I didn’t miss the heat or the chili peppers at all.
Determined to keep curry in my life, I have developed a curry recipe that is free of chili pepper, garlic, tomato, and dairy. It’s delicious and with ginger and black pepper included, the warmth still comes through. I have also made a version of the traditional curry powder recipe since the ready-made spices all include garlic, cloves, and chili peppers.
This recipe is so versatile. You can add in different vegetables and meats. You can make it vegetarian if you don’t want meat. Try dairy instead of coconut milk. Don’t be afraid to experiment with ingredients that are safe for you.
What I learned from watching a lot of cooking shows on PBS is “curry” is simply a combination of spices and food. While there are many traditional versions, there is no set way to make this wonderful dish.
I’m making up a batch of my butternut squash curry tonight. I love how it makes the house smell, and it looks like autumn in a bowl. Try it and see what you think. Get creative! And, for all of you out there who always steered away from curry dishes because they were too hot, try this recipe out! This beautiful dish will warm your belly and your soul.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH CURRY
Please note that I have written this recipe for people who have garlic, chili pepper, and dairy allergies. I have used black pepper for a mild heat effect. If you can tolerate black pepper and want a stronger pepper flavor, please feel free to add more. This recipe contains coconut milk. If you are allergic to coconut and can have dairy, you can use a light cream instead. Use any meat of your choice, or skip meat altogether.
1 cup white long-grain rice
Approx. 2lb Butternut Squash
2 cans of canned lite coconut milk
1 onion, chopped (can use ¼ cup dried shallots)
1 TB olive oil
2 cups of peas (or 3 cups of fresh spinach)
Cooked ground pork – ½ pound (or 1/2 lb ground lamb – or any meat you can safely eat)
1 cup of salted cashews
Cilantro as garnish
1 teaspoon salt
Curry Powder Mixture (garlic and chili pepper free):
Cumin seed 1 teaspoon
Ginger powder 1 teaspoon
Celery seed 1 teaspoon
Nutmeg ¼ teaspoon
Cinnamon ½ teaspoon
Allspice ¼ teaspoon
Cardamom – ¼ teaspoon
Freshly ground pepper 1 teaspoon
Turmeric 1 teaspoon
Cut the butternut squash in half and place in an Instant Pot for 15 minutes. The squash will be semi-cooked, but easy to peel and chop up. While the squash is cooking, place the ground pork in a pan and brown in the pan. Start cooking the rice per package instructions.
While the squash, ground pork, and rice are cooking, place the onions in a pan and brown in the olive oil, and then add the 2 cans of coconut milk. If you are using the dried shallots, place the shallots in the pan, followed by the 2 cans of coconut milk, and then add the salt and curry powder mixture. Slowly simmer to rehydrate the onions and to integrate the spices into the coconut milk.
Once the butternut squash is ready, carefully remove the halves and place them on a cutting board to cool. When cooled enough to handle the halves, cut the squash in sections, and cut off the peeling. Chop the peeled sections into approximately 1-inch squares and place in simmering milk mixture.
Drain the ground pork, and also add the cooked pork to the milk mixture. I used frozen peas, but you can use canned peas, too. If frozen, cook per instructions and add the cooked peas to the milk mixture. (If using fresh spinach instead, place those in the mixture at this time.)
Cook on low until the squash is fully cooked. At that point, remove from heat and add the cashews and cilantro as a garnish.
Spoon freshly cooked rice on a plate, and then spoon the curry mixture over the rice. Enjoy!