Something warming for a nippy evening.
800g (1.7 pound) crown pumpkin 500g (a good pound) large tomatoes, peeled (see Recipe Notes) 2 large red peppers/bell peppers/capsicums 6 kaffir lime leaves 1 small onion, peeled and chopped 1 Tbsp coarsely grated peeled ginger 1 large clove garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped 1 med-hot red chilli, coarsely chopped 1 Tbsp olive oil ¼ tsp ground turmeric ½ tsp ground coriander seeds ¼ tsp ground cumin 400ml (about 14 flu oz) coconut milk 2 cups water Salt (if using flaky sea salt, you will need a good 1½ tsp) 100g (3½ oz) green beans, trimmed and cut into short lengths 1 Tbsp lime juice Cooked rice, for serving
1 Cut pumpkin into large chunks with a sturdy knife. Cut out seeds and cut off pumpkin skin. Cut pumpkin into large cubes. Cut tomatoes into quarters and flick out seeds. Cut flesh into fat strips, discarding cores. Cut peppers in half, remove seeds and cores and cut into chunks.
2 Snip out ‘spines’ of kaffir lime leaves. Chop leaves roughly and put them in a spice (coffee) blender or mini food processor bowl. Add onion, ginger, garlic and chilli. Blitz to a lumpy paste. Failing a machine, chop everything very finely then crush in a mortar and pestle.
3 Heat oil in a large saucepan over gentle heat. Add the paste and fry off for a few minutes. Add turmeric, coriander seeds and cumin and cook for 1 minute.
4 Add pumpkin, red pepper and tomatoes. Stir in coconut milk, water and salt. Bring to a gentle bubble, lower the heat, cover with a lid and cook gently for 10 minutes. Add beans. Cook gently for about 15 minutes, until pumpkin is tender. Taste, adjust salt, then stir in lime juice. Serve with rice.
Recipes often suggest removing the skin from tomatoes. Certain cooking practices toughen them, and in soups and stews they separate from the flesh and can float to the top of the liquid. Everyone has their own method, and here’s mine. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Have a bowl of chilled water ready to receive the scalded tomatoes. Lower tomatoes carefully into the pan of gently boiling water and count to 10 for ripe tomatoes and up to 20 for firmer tomatoes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes to the bowl of chilled water. Try peeling them. If they peel easily, carry on scalding any extra tomatoes, but if they’re difficult, put them back in the pan for 10 seconds more. I find this method absolutely reliable because you can adjust it to the ripeness of the tomatoes.