Pumpkin in Coconut Milk

Fall does not just mean apples but pumpkins galore as well. For that reason, it would feel like a crime to not make at least one dish using fresh pumpkin. :-) Opting for something spice-free (after the Applesauce Cake experience), I decided to use the pumpkin in a typical Malaysian-style coconut milk dessert (think “Bubur Cha Cha” – a combination of cubed yam and sweet potato cooked in a sweet coconut milk base). Instead of relying on spices to flavor the dish, I decided to use palm sugar (as the sweetener), which imparts a rich, caramel-like taste to the sauce. I thought the dish turned out surprisingly delicious despite the fact that I don’t really like pumpkins. Surprise! :-) I am trying my hardest to appreciate this popular Fall “fruit” but having not grown up with it, I find it to be an acquired taste. Hubby also thought the dessert was delicious but to be fair, there’s nothing much that Hubby doesn’t like. :-D The dessert can be eaten warm or cold but I recommend letting the dish sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and for the pumpkins to absorb some of that flavor. Enjoy!

I have never used pumpkin that did not come out of a can – what do I do?

After a little research on the web, I decided to proceed as follows. First, I cut off one side as close to the stem as possible from top to bottom (left the knife halfway through cutting to take a picture…sigh…the life of a food blogger). :-)

I continued cutting away the other three sides the same way,

which means I now have four large chunks of pumpkin to work with.

Scrape out the seeds from each chunk with a spoon.

You can scrape the stringy part out too or leave it and cut it out later.

Cut off a small, thin slice of skin on the outside of each chunk.

Lay the pumpkin on its (larger) flat side and start peeling with your knife from top to bottom, following the curve.

Easy-peasy :-)

Cut the pumpkin into 1 to 1¼” slice.

Cut each slice into cubes.

Since I didn’t scrape away the stringy part earlier, I’m making a thin slice on the cubes to cut it away.

All nice and neat-looking now :-)

Ready for the microwave

Cook until tender – easily pierced with a knife or a skewer.

Palm sugar comes in two different versions – light or dark brown. Since I grew up with the dark-colored variety, I don’t know what the light brown palm sugar tastes like.

This one is from Indonesia.

Cut off the amount needed.

Combine water, palm sugar, and cinnamon stick – cook until the sugar has dissolved.

Add coconut milk, salt,

and cooked pumpkin.

Approximately 2 pounds cubed pumpkin (from 1 small pie pumpkin, about 4 to 4¼ pounds)
2½ cups water
4 ounces palm sugar
1 cinnamon stick (about 2″)
1 (13.5 fluid ounces) can first pressing/unsweetened coconut milk
¼ teaspoon salt

  1. Place cubed pumpkin and ½ cup water in a microwavable casserole dish. Microwave covered on High for 9 minutes (stirring every 3 minutes) or until pumpkin is tender (easily pierced) but still holds its shape. Uncover and set aside until needed.
  2. Combine the remaining 2 cups water, palm sugar, and cinnamon stick in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat (adjust the temperature if necessary to keep the liquid at a simmer instead of a rolling boil), stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Remove cinnamon stick. If you prefer a stronger cinnamon flavor, you can let it steep longer in the liquid and remove later.
  4. Add coconut milk and cooked pumpkin (including whatever water that is left in the casserole dish), and simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken the sauce slightly. Remove saucepan from heat and let sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Serve warm or cold. Store leftovers in the fridge but note that the sauce will turn much thicker when refrigerated. Happy Eating!
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