Pumpkin and Chickpea Curry

I can’t tell you how often I peek inside my kitchen cupboards and think to myself “I should probably use that random can of (fill in the blank)”. Occasionally those random bits and pieces around my kitchen provide inspiration for some pretty great (and creative) meals. So, when the team over at The Recipe Redux asked its contributors to come up with recipes using only what’s already in our kitchens, I happily found myself rummaging around for ingredients and ideas. With a can of pumpkin in one hand and a can of chickpeas in the other, I came up with (let’s call it) a seasonal interpretation of one of my favorite vegetarian meals.

A lot of people are making an effort to add more vegetarian meals to their worlds. I’m not quite sure where or how this trend started, but I’m excited about it! Whether it’s the proliferation of local farmers markets, the wisdom of Michael Pollan (“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”… one of countless healthy eating and living words-of-wisdom he offers), or the amazingly beautiful cookbooks and recipes from Yotam Ottolenchi, more of us are enthusiastically embracing the idea of making vegetables, grains and beans the center of our plate. Go US!

I am convinced that one of the ways I’ve been able to maintain my 100-pound weight loss for 20+ years is by incorporating a lot of veggie-centric eating to my arsenal. While it may seem that making vegetables, grains and legumes the focus of a meal would be a challenge, it turns out this approach to cooking adds amazing possibilities for creativity and improvisation. Switch up your grandma’s beef stroganoff by making a mushroom stroganoff instead. Can’t imagine life without an indulgent occasional bubbling casserole of shepherds pie? The sky’s the limit on this one! (here’s my recipe for a vegan shepherds pie — perfect for Sunday supper…and lunch on Monday).  Vegetarian chili? Yes, please!

I guess what I am trying to say is….

Unleash your inner vegetarian!

…at least once in a while. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, why not explore some vegan cooking, too?

{Enter Vegan Pumpkin and Chickpea Curry}

I’ve admittedly taken some liberty with this recipe, which makes it a bit more approachable than a traditional curry, particularly if you don’t have a lot of experience with making curry at home. Of course, given that the “rules” to this month’s Redux were to avoid having to go to the store for ingredients, all the more reason to stick with spices that were already hanging around my pantry.

(Confession—I did have to make a quick run to pick up fresh cilantro).

While Indian cooking is fairly simple, it can often seem overwhelming when you see the (often long) list of ingredients, most of which are the spices that comprise a proper curry base. I’ve taken a pretty significant shortcut by using a curry powder, which is blend of many of the spices you’ll see in an authentic Indian curry recipe. It’s pretty easy to create your own blend, but for this recipe, I’ve used a standard blend I purchased at a local Indian food market.

Don’t get me wrong….I LOVE to cook with all of the amazing spices in a traditional curry. In fact, one of my most treasured cooking possessions is the Masala Dabba my friend Dia brought back from India. It’s a brilliant way to keep curry spices at the ready.

The addition of pumpkin and sweet potato make for an off-the-beaten path chickpea curry and pack a powerful vitamin and fiber punch.

This recipe comes together pretty quickly, making it perfect for a meatless weeknight dinner (it’s even better the next day). The pumpkin adds rich texture and subtle earthy sweetness to the dish and the addition of cinnamon and cardamom add a subtle warming quality–the perfect remedy to a cold winters night. Serve with basmati rice and you have a full meal. Want to make it a stew? Add 2 more cups of vegetable broth (or water) to create a hearty and satisfying vegan stew.

Pumpkin and Chickpea Curry

servings: 6 | time: about 60 minute


1 TBSP. coconut oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 large yellow pepper, chopped

Seeds from 3 cardamom pods

2 bay leaves

1 TBSP curry powder

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. cayenne

3 cups low sodium vegetable broth

2 cups diced sweet potato

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained

1 15-ounce can plain pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

Handful of cilantro, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Basmati rice for serving


  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy sauce pan over medium heat
  2. Add the chopped onion, garlic and yellow pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, just until the onions begin to soften
  3. Add the cardamom seeds, bay leaves, curry powder, cinnamon, and cayenne and saute for 5 minutes until fragrant
  4. Add the vegetable broth and diced sweet potatoes. Add a couple of big pinches of kosher salt and about 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Simmer over medium low heat until the sweet potato are just starting to become tender (they should be al dente) (about 15 minutes)
  5. Add the chickpeas pumpkin puree and taste for salt and pepper (add more to your liking). Simmer for an additional 10 minutes
  6. Turn off heat and add cilantro and taste one more time for seasoning. Serve with basmati rice