Butternut and Sweet Potato Curry

This is a rambunctiously vibrant curry, both to look at and eat. It is rich, sweet and hearty, with tomatoes providing a balancing acidity and the curry paste bringing uncompromising fire. Of course chillies do vary in heat, so if you’re after something a little less passage-clearing, use two rather than three, and if you want to go milder still, simply de-seed the chillies. Having said that, cooking with chillies always has a touch of roulette about it.
While I have indicated to add the creamy top bit of the coconut milk first, I have to say that I all too often, not paying attention, open the tin upside down, so don’t worry too much about it, but still add just a little of the coconut milk first, stirring it into the pan with the paste, before pouring in the rest.
I like the drama of black Venus rice with this, but by all means serve any rice you want alongside


(Serves 4–6)

  • Red onion – 1 (approx. 150g), peeled and cut into chunks
  • Red chillies – 2–3 (see recipe introduction), stalks removed and cut into 3
  • Fresh ginger – 50g, peeled and cut into thick coins
  • Garlic – 2 cloves, peeled and halved
  • Fresh turmeric – 15g, peeled and roughly chopped or 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • Ground coriander – 1 teaspoon
  • Ground cinnamon – 1⁄2 teaspoo
  • Sea salt flakes – 1 teaspoon, or to taste
  • Coconut oil or vegetable oil – 2 x 15ml tablespoons
  • Coconut milk – 1 x 400ml tin
  • Vegetable stock – 350ml
  • Tinned chopped tomatoes – 1 x 400g tin
  • Sweet potatoes – 500g, peeled
  • and cut into large bite-sized pieces
  • Butternut squash – 1 (1–1.25kg), peeled, de-seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • To serve: Rice / Coriander / Limes


  1. Blitz the prepared onion, chillies, ginger, garlic, turmeric, ground coriander, cinnamon and salt to a paste with a stick blender.
  2. Heat the coconut or vegetable oil in a wide heavy-based casserole that has a lid, and then fry the paste for about a minute or so, stirring well. Don’t use a wooden spoon unless you don’t mind it being stained by the turmeric.
  3. Open the tin of coconut milk carefully and then scrape off the creamy top into the paste, stirring everything together over the heat for another minute or so before adding the rest of the tin of coconut milk, followed by the stock, tinned tomatoes, then the chunked sweet potato and butternut.
  4. Give a good stir, bring to the boil and, once bubbling, turn down the heat, and when everything is gently simmering, clamp on the lid and cook for 40–50 minutes (though start checking at 30) until the sweet potatoes are soft and the squash cooked through. Check for seasoning, then leave to stand off the heat for 10 minutes or so before serving.
  5. Eat with the rice and put chopped coriander and lime wedges on the table alongside, for sprinkling and spritzing respectively.