Oriental Squash Stew
750g/1 lb 10 oz butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks.
1 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped, or 4 dried hot red chillies.
2 green cardamom pods, crushed.
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips.
6 spring onions, roughly chopped.
2 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed.
2 lemon grass stalks, outer leaves discarded, chopped.
1½ tbsp peanut oil (or similar light oil).
2 tsp ground coriander.
½ tsp ground turmeric.
1 tsp paprika.
½ pint canned unsweetened coconut milk.
¼ pint vegetable stock (optional to taste).
1 cinnamon stick.
1½ tbsp soy sauce.
1½ tsp light muscovado sugar (or unprocessed sugar).
11/2 tsp lemon juice.
Chopped fresh coriander, to garnish.
1. If using dried chillies, soak in warm water for ten minutes, then drain. Put the chillies, spring onions, garlic and lemon grass in a blender or food processor and grind to a paste; add a little water if necessary.
2. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan over a low to medium heat. Add the chilli paste and cook for 2-3 minutes until the aroma is released. Add the coriander, turmeric and paprika. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
3. Reduce heat to low and add the butternut squash, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. Add vegetable stock or water, and season with salt. Partially cover and simmer for about 20-25 minutes until the squash is tender and the sauce has thickened.
4. Add the red pepper strips and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce, sugar and lemon juice, and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and serve the stew garnished with chopped coriander.