Butternut squash curry is a dish made by cooking and serving butternut squash in a spicy sauce. Each cook prepares his or her own variation, but each recipe will contain a blend of various spices, and the most traditional curries contain turmeric, cumin, and coriander. Butternut squash is a winter squash with a sweet, nutty flavor and a consistency that makes it suitable for use in a curry. Most individuals eat butternut squash curry over white or brown rice since the rice helps absorb the sauce and its flavors.
Curry originated in India, and the term "curry" is believed to come from the South Indian term kari, roughly meaning "sauce." As a result, most curries use spices commonly found in Indian cuisine. In addition to the standard turmeric, cumin, and coriander, other common spices include ginger, hot pepper, fenugreek, and cloves. Other countries, such as Japan, Thailand, and Ethiopia, also have their own versions of curries that make use of their own native spices, but most cooks preparing a butternut squash curry will likely use Indian flavors.
Ripe butternut squash has thick orange flesh. In many soup or bread recipes, this flesh is softened through a slow roasting process and mashed into a puree, but the flesh can hold its form if cut into cubes or slices and cooked for a shorter period of time. Most curries use cubes of butternut squash rather than pureed squash. The sweet flavor of a fully ripe butternut squash contrasts against the heat of the curry spices, giving the dish a broader depth of flavor than curries prepared with blander ingredients.
Some cooks start by browning cubes of butternut squash, but many often prepare the curry sauce and other ingredients before adding in the squash. Onion, which is a common ingredient found in butternut squash curry, is cooked until translucent or caramelized, depending on a cook's individual preference. After the onion is ready, the cook adds any spices, pastes, and liquids into the pot and heats these ingredients long enough for the flavors to blend together. Pre-made curry pastes already contain all the curry spices needed to prepare the dish. Cooks who do not use a curry paste may add other pastes or thick liquids, such as tomato paste or pureed onion, in order to give the curry a thicker consistency.
After the sauce has simmered for several minutes, the butternut squash is added to the curry and allowed to cook anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. The goal is for the squash to become tender without becoming mushy. Cooking the squash too long will cause it to fall apart, but not cooking it long enough will leave it too hard to bite into. The cooking process also helps draw out the natural sweetness of the butternut squash, allowing it to soak into the curry broth.
Any additional ingredients, ranging from chickpeas to tomatoes to prawns, may be added into the butternut squash curry alongside the squash or well after, depending on how long these ingredients need to finish cooking. Once all the ingredients have finished cooking and all of the flavors are blended together, the curry is removed from the heat source and served hot. Many individuals serve the curry over prepared rice, but others may prefer eating it over noodles. Both rice and noodles soak in some of the liquid, however, so both are suitable choices.