Comfort Food: Pumpkin Shrimp Curry

As a child, and my mother can testify, I was not as excited to eat the food she prepared as I’ve grown to be in my adolescent/adult life.  I can name dishes my Ma would cook I flat out didn’t want near my lips.  Curried Pumpkin and Shrimp or as I’m calling it Pumpkin Shrimp Curry, sounds harmless enough right?  Ha! Tell that to five year old Leigh-Ann.  We (my Ma and I) sat at the kitchen table for hours until I finished eating that day’s meal.  Me, lazily raising half-filled forks to my mouth.  Ma, shoveling heaping forks of food into my mouth.  My plate needed to be spotless before getting a sip of juice or water.  OMG, it was so bad.

As I got older, my relationship with food changed – for the better and those same foods I was reluctant to eat back then turned into today’s favorites.

Pumpkin Shrimp Curry, one of those dishes my Ma must cook for me when I’m home.  Traditionally, my family and most Trinbagonians eat this easy to prepare and loved dish with dhalpourie or paratha.  But when all else fails its delicious over cooked rice.  Made with Calabaza squash (West Indian pumpkin), cooked in a mix of curry powder, seasonings and vegetables until the naturally sweet pumpkin falls apart and marries the unique flavors of the shrimp.  See why I have to have this!

– When I prepare this dish to be served over rice, the pumpkin is cooked all the way through but left chunkier than if I prepared it to be served with roti (dhalpourie & paratha.)

– My mother uses baby shrimp and although the pumpkin is the real star of the show, I use regular sized, wild caught shrimp.

– I use pepper flakes when cooking that way I can regulate the heat of the dish.  But if you are braver than I am, go right ahead and use a hotter raw pepper like scotch bonnets

– The below recipe make 4 servings.  Go ahead freeze the left overs, it stays good for a month.

olive oil
1 cup onion, sliced
1 cup leeks, sliced
1 cup of green onions, small chop
4 sprigs of thyme
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups of Calabaza Sqaush, medium chop
6oz of vegetable stock, warmed
1 1/2 tbsp. curry powder
1tsp of turmeric
½ tsp of Geera
½ tsp of pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp. of light brown sugar
½ lb. shrimp, cleaned and washed
1 tbsp. of green seasoning

Season the shrimp with the green seasoning, ½ tbsp. of curry powder, ¼ tsp of black pepper and ½ tsp of salt.  Set aside.

Create a loose paste with using the rest of the curry powder, turmeric, geera, garlic, pepper flakes and water.

On a medium/high heat, hot enough oil to coat the bottom of a medium sauce pan.  To the hot oil add the “curry” paste, cooking for 10 seconds before adding the onion, leek and pumpkin.  Mix well to coat the vegetables in the     paste.  Cook for 2 minutes before adding the warm stock, thyme, sugar, 1 tbsp. of salt and ½ tbsp. of black pepper.  Bring the vegetables up to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes.  By this time the cubes of pumpkin should be almost cooked.  Combine the shrimp and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered before tasting for more seasoning.

Serve with steamed rice.

Enjoy!

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