Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for kiri hodi with butternut squash

Kiri hodi, or coconut milk curry, is one of Sri Lanka’s most popular dishes, and it is a genius recipe. All you need to do to create this taste of paradise, made using a combination of spices, aromats, citrus and coconut milk, is to bung the ingredients into a pot (largely all at the same time) and pop it on the stove. What joy. It’s the perfect thing to cook for time-poor or weary cooks, and the perfect thing to eat to bring some big tropical energy into your life.

The roast butternut is untraditional, but it lends its sweetness to the creamy sourness of kiri hodi. If you don’t have any, you could use almost any other vegetable instead. It’s worth hunting down fresh curry leaves; freeze any leftover leaves for next time.

Prep 15 min
Cook 50 min
Serves 4

1kg butternut squash, halved, deseeded and peeled, flesh cut into 1½cm cubes (about 900g net)
2 tsp mild curry powder
1½ tbsp rapeseed oil
Fine sea salt
1 brown onion, peeled and finely diced
5 green finger chillies, finely sliced
12-15 fresh curry leaves
¾ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
5 garlic cloves
, peeled and crushed
150g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 x 10cm-long cinnamon stick, snapped in two
2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
1½ tbsp lime juice
(ie from 1 lime)
Rice, to serve

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 and line a baking tray (I have a reusable baking liner).

Put the squash cubes in a large bowl, add the curry powder, rapeseed oil and three-quarters of a teaspoon of fine sea salt, and toss to coat. Tip out on to the tray in an even layer, roast for 35 minutes, then take out of the oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, put the onion, chillies, curry leaves, turmeric, fenugreek, garlic, cherry tomatoes, cinnamon and one and a half teaspoons of salt in a medium saucepan, then add 200ml tap water. Over a medium to high heat, bring up to a boil and cook for 12 minutes, until the onions and tomatoes are completely soft and nearly all the liquid has evaporated.

Add the coconut milk and the roast squash, bring back to a gently bubbling simmer, then turn off the heat and add the lime juice. Taste and adjust the salt and lime as needed, and serve with steamed rice.

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