Malaysian Squash & Courgette Rendang

A colourful, comforting curry dish from chef Jo Pratt's latest cookbook 'The Flexible Vegetarian', a crowd-pleaser for veggies and meat-eaters alike... 

"This is a regular in my house and I’ll often make double the amount of curry paste and keep it in a jar in the fridge for future quick-prep suppers. The squash, red pepper and courgette provide fabulous colour, and the added split red lentils result in a thick sauce that’s nutritionally balanced."

Malaysian Squash & Courgette Rendang Curry with Red Lentils

Serves 4

I N G R E D I E N T S 

Olive oil
8–10 cardamom pods, crushed
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp whole cloves
3 kaffir lime leaves, torn into quarters
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into
3–4cm/1¼–1½ inch chunks
1 red (bell) pepper, deseeded and cut into
2–3cm/¾–1¼ inch chunks
150g/7 oz red split lentils
400ml/14 fl oz tin coconut milk
400ml/14 fl oz/12⁄3 cups vegetable stock
Handful coconut flakes
1 tbsp agave or maple syrup
2 medium courgettes (zucchini), cut into 2–3cm/ ¾–1¼ inch chunks
Flaked sea salt
Lime wedges, to serve

For the spice paste:
4 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 stalk lemongrass, roughly chopped
2½cm/1 inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2½cm/1 inch piece galangal, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp turmeric
2 long red chillies, roughly chopped
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp sunflower or groundnut oil
1 tsp flaked sea salt

M E T H O D 

To make the spice paste, put all the ingredients into a small food processor or blender and blitz to form a smooth paste. Set aside or keep covered in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the paste and fry for a minute or so. Add the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cloves and lime leaves. Fry for a further minute, then add the butternut squash, red pepper and lentils. Stir around to coat in the paste, then pour in the coconut milk and stock. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a small dry frying pan over a medium heat. Add the coconut flakes and agave/maple syrup, and toss around in the pan until golden and crisp. Remove from the heat.

Stir the courgette into the curry. Return to a simmer and continue to cook, with the lid off, for a further 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Serve the curry in bowls and scatter over the coconut. Serve with lime to squeeze over.

To be a flexible vegetarian...

The spice paste can be used in the same way as above to make a chicken rendang. Swap the squash, lentils and courgette for 4 large chicken breasts (cut into chunks) and cook as above. You won’t need to use the vegetable stock as this is only needed when using lentils. Reduce the simmering time to just 10 minutes in total, rather than 20 minutes. If you fancy adding a vegetable such as baby corn or green beans, then add them when the chicken is half cooked.

Recipe from 'The Flexible Vegetarian' by Jo Pratt.