This recipe is from Stevie Parle, who works here in the kitchen at Petersham. I really love its warm, delicate sweetness which is both complex and subtle. He used a little white bean, almost like a borlotti, that he found in a shop in Southall. Whatever you choose, it should be quite small and delicate in flavour so that it does not fight the flavour of the broth - cannellini would be perfect.
1 fresh coconut (or 1 tin coconut milk)
1tbsp ghee or clarified butter
1tsp black mustard seeds
1 onion squash (if you can't get hold of this, Crown Prince or butternut squash will be fine)
1 inch fresh turmeric, peeled and grated
1 dried chilli
10 fresh curry leaves
150g/5oz dried white beans, soaked overnight and cooked according to packet instructions
A little sea-salt
1 inch thumb of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4-5 sweet little tomatoes
I prefer to use fresh coconut; it is a little extra work but its flavour is far more delicate. If you do it this way, look for small, sweet, young coconuts, not the more typical older, harder ones. Remove the outside husk by holding in your hand, rotating it slowly and tapping it gently on the top with a rolling pin until the outer flesh splits and you can gently remove the flesh with your hands. Cut in half down the middle with a sharp knife, catching the water in a bowl as it escapes. Roughly chop the flesh into chunks and place in a blender with a cup or two of warm water. Blend until smooth and strain it into the bowl in which you have poured the coconut milk.
Next, peel and chop the pumpkin into 2cm (1in) wedges. Heat a tablespoon of ghee in a medium-sized pan. When hot, add the mustard seeds and let them pop for a bit. Turn the heat down slightly and add the ginger, turmeric, tomatoes and dried chilli. Add the pumpkin and stir a couple of times to coat. Next, sprinkle over the curry leaves and pour in the coconut milk. Keeping the heat at medium to low, place a lid on the saucepan and cook gently until the pumpkin is tender. Season with salt. Add the cooked white beans and cook gently for a further 5-10 minutes.
It is delicious eaten alone, but is also lovely served with some simple steamed white fish.
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