Sri Lankan pumpkin curry for an ultimate frugal epicure

Pumpkin Curry

What is Sri Lankan yellow pumpkin curry?

Pumpkin curry is best described as a stewed green pumpkin in a spicy fragrant yellow curry sauce. It is a type of yellow curry that is creamy fragrant and saucy texture also very flavorful. It can be consumed on its own or with a side such as bread or rice. Imagine a creamy potato soup but much better. Perfect Sri Lankan pumpkin curry can be spicy or mild according to what’s your taste buds prefer, I like mine quite spicy with loaded hot green chilies

Pumpkin puree in a table arrangement

Why Pumpkin Curry?

Pumpkins curry is one of our family’s end of summer or fall favorites.  We all love to go pumpkin picking and carve up a jack-o-lantern from a pumpkin as Halloween approaches. Other than that, there are many delightful dishes that can be prepared with this abundant fruit at any time of the year. May it be the mains like pasta sauce, soup, roasted or mashed pumpkins or desserts and breakfast goodies like pumpkin bread and cookies or waffles, possibilities are endless.

Sri Lankan Pumpkin curry

Abundant, frugal, healthy, and flavorful much versatile for anything you might want to make. I feel like pumpkins are much of an underrated vegetable restricted to making desserts in most of our daily cooking. We like to mask this wonderful flavor with loads of sugar. Don’t get me wrong, I would love a good pumpkin pie, bread, or a cookie on any given rainy afternoon. But what I really crave for is good thick creamy yellow pumpkin curry with some rice that highlights that wonderful flavor for my dinner.

But here are some honorable mentions of my favorite pumpkin creations before we get in to making a pumpkin curry

Curry pumpkin and everything on how to make sense of it

Pumpkins come in a variety of flavors and colors. Some are orange or golden, white while others reddish, and green. In the tropics, where I inherited a liking for pumpkin curry, they are grown year around. It’s a year-around cheap vegetable you overlooked on a vendor’s shelf and buy from a roadside farm stand or vendor truck.

Even with 6 plus months of cold, we can find some form of squash or cucurbit thanks to supermarkets. One type for every recipe may be a dessert or a main. One I am taking on today is the kind with plentiful mildly sweet cream or yellow flesh, thick skin and quite large to handle if you get a whole fruit in raw for cooking a pumpkin curry.

Most of the pumpkins are on the sweeter side. However, cheese pumpkins or green and Japanese varieties are nuttier and less sweet. It is obvious that less sweet pumpkin varieties are best suited for curries. The ideal pumpkin for the curry we are making today would be a 3 to 4 lb. I like to remove a little bit of pumpkin skin intact in my curry as well. You could buy already cubed or halved pumpkins in the market. But if you undertake the daring endeavor of dismantling the beast, please check out the instructions below

Please be mindful to place it over a non-slip towel or surface while cutting into a whole pumpkin. In the highly likely scenario of knife slipping or getting stuck inside and become immobile Use a kitchen towel and carefully wriggle it free. I have always seen vendors use heavy knives and use blunt edge knife to crack the flesh open not actually cut it.

Start near the stem on one side and punch the knife through until you hit the seeds and push the knife down to make a cut on the side all the way through. Pull the knife out and turn the pumpkin around to make a similar cut on the opposite side until pumpkin separates into two pieces. Scoop the seeds out and cut in to 2-inch cubes. You could leave the skin out if you get an organic pumpkin with a skin without blemishes for added nutrient benefits or cut it off.

Seasoning and aromatics for pumpkin curry

This is another yellow curry recipe. The authentic version is creamy fragrant full of coconut cream and mild. A good sauce made with coconut and cinnamon notes blends perfectly with pumpkin flavor highlighted by sweetness of fennel seeds. It isn’t hard to a pumpkin curry from scratch but if you have a good yellow curry powder things do become easier.

Pumpkin Curry Recipe

Serving Size: Half a cup of curry over rice or 2 cups as a soup  

Cook time: 25 Minutes


  • One green pumpkin
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • One-inch-long stick of cinnamon
  • Two green chilies
  • One teaspoon fresh ground mustard seed
  • One inch size piece of ginger
  • Teaspoon of freshly ground black paper
  • Handful of curry leaves
  • One medium red onion
  • Two pandan leaves
  • Two tablespoons desiccated coconut
  • One tablespoon raw white rice
  • One teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • One teaspoon of coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp of ground fennel
  • Two teaspoons of salt
  • Half a teaspoon of nutmeg
  • One teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
  • Two cardamom pods


image of cubed pumpkins
Cubed pumpkins in clay pot

Wash the pumpkin and cut it into 2-inch cubes. Remove the outer tough skin with a chef s knife.

Dry roast rice and desiccated coconut separately over medium low heat until just golden.

Grind mustard seeds with salt in a mortar and pestle.

Add ground mustard, roasted rice, desiccated coconut, turmeric, coriander powder in a grinder. Pulse few seconds to grind and add half a cup of water to make a smooth paste.

Slice the onion and green chili finely. Slice ginger and garlic finely.

Coat pumpkin pieces with the seasoning blend and add just enough water to cover pumpkins. Add onions, green chili, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, pandan leaves and fenugreek seeds. cook in a covered clay pot, in low heat until pumpkin pieces are done and soft for about twenty minutes. When pumpkins are soft had half a cup of coconut milk, cardamom pods, stick of cinnamon and nutmeg. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes on low.

Finish with a sprinkle of black curry seasoning powder on top.

Image of finished pumpkin curry garnished
Finished pumpkin curry

Serving suggestions with pumpkin curry

Pumpkin curry can replace red lentil curry or creamy jack fruit curry in any rice and curry meal. It is wholesome, filling, and full of packed nutrients.  This child-friendly recipe is a good source of vital dietary fiber and vitamin A included with benefits of spices like turmeric, curry leaves, cinnamon, and ginger.

I hope you will try out this curry recipe this fall and will like it as much as we do! Let me know in the comment below.

Rice : Top four popular rice side dishes from Sri Lanka

Mouthwatering yellow curry from scratch

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