Curry makes the world go around, as far as I am concerned. The flavours and smells of all those aromatic spices, tongue tingling chilli, pungent garlic and onions frying in oil or butter all make me inordinately happy. As much as I adore my chicken tikka masala and lamb rogan josh, the wonderful thing about Indian spicing is that it makes a feast of even the blandest pulse or vegetable, and can even satisfy Hungry Hubby’s voracious appetite! As long as there is a buttery garlic naan on the table, he’s a happy man. My Instant Pot Chickpea & Butternut Curry is an easy peasy, vegan delight.
Regular readers know how much I adore my Instant Pot; I’ve been smitten since the kind people at IP sent me one to play with and it has quite genuinely changed the way I cook and therefore eat. But I have been cooking curries my whole life and bunging all the ingredients in any cooking pot and hoping for caramelised onions and complex layers of flavour isn’t going to happen.
Instead, I utilise my Instant Pot to precook the stars of this dish and then I use Sauté mode to cook the sauce to add them to. Try as I may, I couldn’t get the chickpeas and butternut to cook at the same time in the Instant Pot without one being overdone so instead, I am going to give you some options:
- Use a can of chickpeas instead of cooking them from dried.
- Use leftover roasted butternut squash (or sweet potato) from your Sunday roast.
- Cook your chickpeas and butternut the day before and chill them in the fridge for up to 2 days before cooking the curry (which takes 10 mins tops!).
As both of the main ingredients in this curry are inherently sweet, I have balanced them out a few ways in this recipe. Firstly, I caramelise the onions well in the oil to start with. This is a trick done most often with red meat curries to make sure the onions speak up against the pungency of lamb or mutton but it really works in a vegan curry.
Next, I use a little tomato puree rather than a can of tomatoes or fresh ones – its deep rich, sweetness marries well with the coconut milk to give a good, rich gravy. To ensure that sweetness isn’t overpowering, I add some tamarind paste which is intensely sour. The final secret ingredient I hope I can encourage you all to try is my biryani masala spice mix. Yes, it’s primarily used in biryanis but all these warming spices work perfectly here:
A totally moreish curry which will delight your taste buds! Super satisfying and easy to make. Do read the blog post for shortcuts so you don't have to wait longer than 10 mins to get your curry on the table!
- 100 g dried chickpeas (soak overnight in lots of cold water)
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, halved and deseeded (approx 1kg/2lbs in weight)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp biryani masala (recipe in the post)
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 200 ml coconut milk (full or low fat)
- 1 tbsp tamarind paste
- 4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
If you have a very big butternut, you will actually be able to put it on a trivet on top of the presoaked chickpeas and cook at the same time. But anything less than 1kg in size will be too soft.
To cook the chickpeas, drain them and place in the Instant Pot covered by at least 2 inches of cold water. Cook for 13 minutes on Manual High and QPR. (If you have forgotten to presoak them overnight, cook for 20 mins on Manual High and then QPR).
To cook the butternut separately, place the peeled, deseeded halves (or quarters if it very large) on the trivet and add 250 ml water to the pot. Cook for 10 minutes on Manual High with QPR. Carefully lift out and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before cutting into 1-2 inch sized chunks.
In the cleaned out Instant Pot, add the oil and set to Sauteé adjusting to more heat. When hot, add the onions and cook until softened and browned (not burnt - you will need to keep stirring them to prevent sticking).
Add the garlic and ginger, cooking for a minute until fragrant then add the dried spices and cook again until fragrant. Stir very well
Add the tomato purée, coconut milk, tamarind and fresh coriander (reserve a little to garnish with). Cook for a minute before carefully stirring in the cooked chickpeas and butternut.
It will be quite liquid at this point but have faith and keep cooking for a couple more minutes - the gravy will evaporate all of a sudden and become much thicker. Add a little vegetable stock or even just water if you like more sauce. Dig in and serve with naan or rice (or both) as liked.
- I often peel my garlic and ginger and throw in my mini food processor to blend to a paste with a little water to help it mix.
- I always measure my dried spices into a small pot before I start a curry so I can add them all at once and save time.
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