We often cook laksa at home – a Malaysian noodle soup of sorts with sour, sweet, salty and spicy notes. You can buy laksa curry paste, but I have given you the recipe here as the flavour is much better and it keeps well in the fridge or freezer. Delica pumpkins, with their emerald green skin and vibrant orange flesh (it’s practically an Irish flag, so you can’t go wrong!), are great in this dish. However, they are not always available in supermarkets, so you can use any kind of squash instead.
For the curry paste, add everything to a food processor with 6 tablespoons of water and blitz until you have a paste, scraping down the sides when needed. This will take at least 2 minutes of constant blitzing.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (360ºF) Gas 4. Cut the pumpkin/squash halves into 3 cm/1 1/4 inch chunks, drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until cooked through.
Place a large pot with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over a medium heat. Add in the shallots and stir-fry for a few minutes until softened.
Turn down the heat, add in the curry paste and cook gently for 5 minutes until fragrant. Add in the sugar or maple syrup, salt, lime zest and juice and tamarind paste. Cook for another few minutes until the sugar has dissolved and everything is sizzling.
Add in the coconut milk and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer briskly for 10 minutes. Taste the soup and if necessary adjust the seasoning with a little more salt, lime juice or coconut palm sugar. You should be able to taste all the sour, salty, sweet elements quite strongly. Add in the cooked pumpkin/squash and the spinach leaves, stirring into the sauce until slightly wilted.
Cook the noodles in boiling water, according to the packet instructions. Ladle the soup into bowls and then add in a mound of noodles. Scatter over some of the red onion, chilli/chile and mint leaves and serve immediately with the lime wedges to squeeze over.
Yield: 4 Servings
1 delica pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, halved and deseeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 shallots, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons of the curry paste (see below)
3 tablespoons coconut palm sugar or pure maple syrup
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
zest and juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons), plus another lime, cut into wedges, to serve
2 tablespoons tamarind paste (alternatively use another 2 tablespoons of lime juice)
2 x 400-ml/14-fl. oz. cans coconut milk
400 ml/1 2/3 cups vegetable stock
200 g/6 ½ oz. rice noodles
½ a red onion, sliced
1 fresh red chilli/chile, deseeded and thinly sliced
small handful of fresh mint leaves
few leaves spinach, to serve
For the curry paste:
3 fresh red chillies/chiles, deseeded
2 teaspoons chilli/hot red pepper flakes
4 shallots, roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled
3 lemongrass stalks, outer leaves and woody ends removed, chopped
3-cm/1 ¼-inch piece fresh ginger, skin scraped off with a teaspoon
1 tablespoons ground coriander
1 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoons ground turmeric
4 lime leaves (optional)