This very quick Turkey & Pumpkin Curry makes fantastic use of leftover Thanksgiving turkey, a cup of canned pumpkin, sweet curry, and a splash of coconut milk.
What is the best way to improve a store bought Indian curry sauce? Do not buy it in the first place. Instead, use leftover turkey, pumpkin puree, and a bit of coconut to create this hypnotically fragrant, wonderfully tasty pumpkin and coconut curry.
Looking for additional comfort food meals? Be sure to check out my recipes for these great dishes, too!
a personal favorite, Best Chicken and Dumplings
Pumpkin is fantastic for savory dishes. I keep at least one can of canned pumpkin puree in my pantry, always. It's different than pumpkin pie filling. Very different. When I post about dishes like this Turkey & Pumpkin Curry, I think eaters expect to bite into something somewhere between pumpkin pie and butternut squash. Not so. This curry (and who doesn't love a curry???), offers everything nutritional that pumpkin brings to the table. It also packs a powerful, fresh, flavorful one-two punch. It's bestie in this recipe? Canned sweetened condensed coconut milk.
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There is the turkey, and then there is all the rest. Sweet potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole…it's hard to believe we will tire of eating before plowing through all those leftovers. Turkey curry is not new. In fact, a good college friend whose family is originally from Jaffna, Sri Lanka, has a turkey curry method that they tell me has been in their family for 300 years. Its ingredients are few, comprised solely of minced turkey, a LOT of garlic, red curry paste, bell peppers, and practically a bushel of chopped cilantro. The ingredients are all sautéed in coconut oil, and then a hint of evaporated coconut milk is added right at the end. It is served with torn pieces of Naan and lots of good wine. It is comfort food, Sri Lankan style, to the max. Home recipes like curries are generally healthy, delicious, low carb, and more often than not, vegetarian. They are easy, cooking in mere minutes. Honestly, it takes longer to boil the rice…
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So, what can you do with canned pumpkin that is NOT a pie? Pumpkin squash curry like this easy Turkey & Pumpkin Curry are a great start.
In the method I am outlining today, my goal is to make great use, sort of 'fresh idea' use, of that leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Do not fret! There will still be plenty of turkey for those cherished Thanksgiving Sandwiches that my family covets, as I'm sure yours does, too. Which reminds me, I must grab an extra can of that jellied cranberry sauce for my Dad. There's just no changing some folks.
This dish is a nod to both savory and sweet, opening so many possibilities where selecting the 'correct' wine is concerned. My preference and suggestion is a bold white Bordeaux by Legende. This vintage tips its hat in the direction of altogether classy and crisp. Click images for pricing and ship times.
So, I mentioned my friend from college. Raj. His mom is from old Bombay, todays Mumbai. She married Raj's dad and they moved to Jaffna for his dad's job when Raj was a year old. And when Raj was seven, they came to the United States. Every time Raj would visit his parents who now happily reside in Hartford, Connecticut, he would come back to campus with bags of food, all Tupperware dishes packed full of his Mom's cooking. His Mom Samaira's Butternut Squash Pumpkin Curry was my introduction to curry. I coaxed Raj into sharing one night when I had no money to order a pizza and it was snowing to hard to trudge over to the dining hall. One taste of that beautiful butternut squash and coconut milk curry answered the "is curry a British invention" question for me. Um, no. No, it's not.
When I commented on the big steaming bowl of 'wonderful,' Raj explained that coconut curry sauce is the base line for the start of hundreds of Indian and Thai curries. The difference between Coconut Curry Chicken Indian style and say a Thai Chicken Curry recipe is the use of different pepper pastes. Indian leans in heavy on pepper paste and spices, while Thai chefs tend to go light. Chopped cilantro and kaffir lime leaves are also a difference in Indian and Thai curry dishes. But the differences between them are fewer than what makes them similar.
How do you thicken Indian curries? Add pumpkin!
Raj promised to ask his Mom to record her method and he would email the recording to me. She was not confident writing in English, but was so entirely flattered that, as she put it, "a white girl wanted to cook Bengali, so I must teach her," that I had received the recording to my email address in less than 24 hours. Fast forward to my first and only really, oral method and recipe for a gorgeous Turkey Butternut Squash Curry. Turkey curries, really? YES! And oh my word was that ever amazing. So, why could I not manipulate the ingredients just a little? Canned pumpkin puree and some sweet coconut milk? Oh yes. Samaira's easy turkey curry recipe would have me free and experimenting with curry and pepper paste heat for two decades before admitting that less is always the best.
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
Did you know that it’s super easy to print out a version of a half recipe or even a double recipe on Not Entirely Average? Hover over the serving size (highlighted in blue, it says 6 on this recipe) and then slide the the white line to the left to make less or to the right to make more. This "calculator" allows you to play until you get the number of servings you want. Easy.
Ingredients for Turkey & Pumpkin Curry
- 2 tablespoons canola oil divided
- 1 pound turkey may be fresh cubed or leftover chopped
- 1 cup onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon ginger freshly grated
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon ground
- 1 teaspoon coriander ground
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup pumpkin puree NOT PUMPKIN PIE PUMPKIN
- 1/2 cup coconut milk sweetened condensed
- **1/2 teaspoon **red curry paste **optional, to taste
- cilantro leaves, fresh
if you plan to serve this over rice, cook the rice according to the package instructions and have ready for this curry method which is prepared very quickly
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Sweat the onion in the pan until translucent. Toss in the chopped leftover turkey and heat for 2 minutes. Remove the onion and turkey mixture to a place and keep warm. Set aside.
- Heat remaining oil in the same pan over medium heat. Sauté the ginger and garlic for 1 minute. ** If using red curry paste, add now to taste. Stir in the yellow curry powder, spices, and salt. Cook mixture an additional minute.
- Stir in the pumpkin and coconut milk, and using a metal spatula, scrape any accumulated browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the turkey and onion to the pan and bring it to a simmer.
- Reduce the heat and cook an additional 8-10 minutes until the turkey mixture is fragrant and the sauce is homogenous. Garnish with torn fresh cilantro leaves. Serve over rice or a favorite grain.