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Squash Malai Kari

Squash Malai Kari 4.000

Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post; styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Weeknight Vegetarian Oct 25, 2020

Cookbook author Meera Sodha loosely based this recipe on the Bengali malai kari, a dish made with sweet onions, garam masala and rich coconut milk. It’s warming, hearty and sharpened with a little lime. Kabocha squash is preferred here for its dry flesh, but if you can’t find it, use acorn or butternut. Serve with rice or naan.

Storage Notes: The roasted squash and the finished sauce can be refrigerated, separately, for up to 1 week. Reheat before serving. Freezing is not recommended.

4 - 6

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4-6 servings

  • 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 wedges for serving, optional
  • Toasted flaked almonds, for garnish (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)


Position a baking rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

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.

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.

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.

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Recipe Source

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

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 309

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 24g 37%

Saturated Fat: 13g 65%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 660mg 28%

Total Carbohydrates: 25g 8%

Dietary Fiber: 4g 16%

Sugar: 8g

Protein: 4g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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