Thai Yellow Pumpkin and Seafood Curry

This spiced curry from Nigella Lawson can be made in advance and makes a great base for a variety of curries
By Nigella Lawson
Thai Yellow Pumpkin and Seafood Curry
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: easy



  • 400 ml coconut milk, tinned
  • 1 tbsp Thai curry paste, yellow or red
  • 350 ml fish stock, (I use boiling water and a slug of Benedicta Touch of Taste Concentrated fish bouillon; cubes would do)
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar, or caster sugar
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, each cut into three and bruised with the flat of a knife
  • 3 lime leaves, destalked and cut into strips
  • 0.5 tsp turmeric
  • 1 kg pumpkin, (or butternut squash) peeled and cut into large bite-sized chunks
  • 500 g salmon, preferably organic, skinned and cut into large bite-sized chunks
  • 500 g prawns, raw and peeled
  • 1 handfuls pak choi, or any other green vegetables of your choice
  • 0.5 limes, juice only
  • 1 bunches coriander, chopped, to serve

Tips and Suggestions

It's a good idea to have something up your sleeve that you can cook quickly, and simply, when you've got friends coming over to supper midweek after work. This is that something. Don't let the length of the list of ingredients put you off. You really could go to the supermarket at lunchtime and buy everything you need. What's more, most of it keeps: salmon, raw prawns, lime leaves and lemongrass in the deep-freeze (and all but the salmon can be used from frozen); curry paste in the fridge; the coconut milk, fish sauce, fish stock concentrate and turmeric in the cupboard. In other words, one shopping expedition, many curries.

Yes, the coriander you'll need to buy fresh (though at a push you could buy a box of already chopped frozen stuff) as you will the pumpkin and pak choy and - give or take - the lime, but whatever, you have the base here for a number of curries. Once you've cooked this and seen both how simple and how divine it is, you'll see how you can adapt it for different produce.

You have to have rice with curry and the simplest way to cook this is to get an electric rice cooker. The best part of this is that once you've put the rice and water in, the rice cooks itself and - with my model at least - stays warm for 12 hours, so you're not going to have to do any last minute timing shenanigans. You just stick the rice on when you get in, and it'll be fine whatever time people bowl up for dinner. With the same idea in mind, you should know that you can cook the curry up till the part where the pumpkin is tender and then leave it, reheating it later to cook (for all of about 3 minutes) the prawns and salmon. Given that most people are late for dinner when they're coming after work, this means that you don't have the dilemma of either leaving something spoiling on the stove or having a frenzied bout of last minute cooking once they arrive.

I've said 1-2 tablespoons of curry paste. This is because pastes vary enormously in their strengths and people vary enormously in their tastes. Some like it hot: I like it very hot - and use 2 tablespoonfuls. But it might be wiser to add 1 tablespoonful first and then taste later, once all the liquid's in, to see if you want to add more.

One last bossy note: if you can't get raw prawns, don't use cooked ones; just double the amount of salmon.


1. Skim the thick creamy top off the tin of coconut milk and put it, over medium heat, into a large saucepan or casserole with the curry paste. Let it sizzle and, using a fork, whisk or wooden spoon, beat milk and paste together until combined.

2. Still beating, gently, add the rest of the coconut milk, fish stock, fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass, lime leaves and turmeric. Bring to a boil and then add the pumpkin.

3. Cook on a fast simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 15 minutes, although different sorts of pumpkins can vary enormously in the time they take to cook; some squash take as little as 5 minutes.

As I mentioned, you can cook the curry up till this part in advance, maybe leaving the pumpkin with still a tiny bit of bite to it (it will soften and cook as the pan cools). Either way, when you're about 5 minutes away from wanting to eat, get ready to cook the seafood.

4. So, to the robustly simmering pan, add the salmon and prawns (if you're using the prawns from frozen they'll need to go in before the salmon).

5. When the salmon and prawns have cooked through, which shouldn't take more than 3-4 minutes, stir in the green veg you're using - sliced, chopped or shredded as suits - and tap down with a wooden spoon.

6. When the pak choy is wilted, squeeze in the juice of half a lime, stir and taste and then add the juice of the remaining half if you feel it needs it.

7. Take the pan off the heat or decant the curry into a large bowl, and sprinkle over the coriander; the point is the coriander goes in just before serving. Serve with more chopped coriander, for people to add to their own bowls as they eat, and some plain Thai or basmati rice.

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