Discover the nutty goodness of kabocha squash with this stellar sauce – The Washington Post

Try roasting butternut squash next to spaghetti squash next to one of my favorites, kabocha, and you’ll see what I mean. The first is sweet, nutty and dense, a classic pumpkin flavor and texture; the second is stringy and a little bland; and the third is fluffy and tastes like chestnut mixed with sweet potatoes. And there are so many more.

I’ve written before about how much I love kabocha with a sauce, because its drier flesh soaks up liquid so nicely. And that’s just what Meera Sodha does with it in her captivating new cookbook, “East.” She loosely based her recipe on Bengali malai kari, a dish of sweet onions, garam masala and coconut milk (plus prawns), but here the star is that kabocha, roasted in wedges (without the need for peeling beforehand).

Sodha demonstrates how easily such curries can come together from a handful of spices (plus the workhorse blend of garam masala), canned tomatoes, coconut milk and the aromatic base of garlic, ginger and onion. You cook the sauce while the squash is roasting, and when both are done, you nestle the wedges in the spicy sauce on a platter or plates.

All that’s left is the eating — with rice or naan, or by itself. Feel free to dig in. It’s fall, and you’ll be excused if you can’t get enough.

Scale and get a printer-friendly version of the recipe here.


  • One (2 pounds 8 ounces) kabocha squash
  • 4 tablespoons canola, sunflower or other vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 2 medium red onions (1 pound total), finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3/4 cup canned crushed or strained tomatoes
  • One (14-ounce) can coconut milk (may substitute light coconut milk)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons red chile powder, such as Kashmiri
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, plus more to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more to taste, and optional wedges for serving
  • Toasted flaked almonds, for garnish (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)

Step 1

Position racks in the upper and lower middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Step 2

Without peeling, cut the squash in half, scoop out and discard the seeds (or save for roasting). Cut the flesh into wedges no more than 3/4-inch wide. In a large bowl, toss the wedges with 1 tablespoon of the oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, then transfer them to the baking sheets, making sure to keep them from overlapping. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, turning the squash wedges over halfway through, until the squash is tender and is blackening at the edges.

Step 3

Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until the garlic is soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomato and cook until rich and paste-like, about 6 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, cumin, chile powder, garam masala, sugar, cinnamon and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and cook until the sauce is thick and bubbling. Stir in the lime juice, taste, and add more salt, sugar and/or lime juice, if needed.

Step 4

Divide the sauce among serving plates and top each with a few wedges of squash. Garnish with the almonds, cilantro and/or lime wedges, if you like, and serve hot.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 309; Total Fat: 24g; Saturated Fat: 13g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 660mg; Carbohydrates: 25g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 8g; Protein: 4g.

Adapted from “East” by Meera Sodha (Flatiron Books, 2020).

Scale and get a printer-friendly version of the recipe here.