Butternut Squash with Harissa and Coconut Milk


Butternut Squash with Harissa and Coconut Milk 5


The sweet, smooth butternut squash melds with the silky coconut milk spiked with harissa. Sometimes opposites work really well and this was one of those times.  It is kind of hard to describe fusion of flavors…and a lingering of a sweet and spicy after taste that you would want to hold on to.


Butternut Squash Diptych 1

Butternut Squash BW 1

 For Black and White Wednesday #129, hosted at Cindystar.



Ever since I had started making harissa with pumpkins and butternut squash, I had been planning to incorporated the coconut milk in it, to mellow down the heat, to make the bold and bright a bit more graceful and seamless. Finally when I was to cook when a friend was visiting I thought this was my chance.


Butternut Squash with Harissa and Coconut Milk 3


Every time I have to cook for company, I end up making something new. Something I have never cooked before. Perhaps the boredom sets in with the cooking the same recipes over and over again.  And I have been observing that I have cooked most of the “first tried out” recipes when I have had company. It is taking a risk, for I know not what will happen, but the challenge gives me the energy.


Butternut Squash 2


Well, I cannot seem to get a single word out for this post today, let alone a full sentence or description. I will call the month of May, the month of insanity. We are all overwhelmed with the things happening right now, barely able to catch a breath through the day. Recitals, field trips, tests, events, hours at school and good weather. Yes good weather; the kind that forces you to spend as much time outside as the daylight allows.

Butternut Squash with Harissa and Coconut Milk 7

All I can say is this was pretty good. The flavors of harissa did not diminish with the coconut milk. Yet the dish lightened to some extent and mellowed. It got even better the next day. The mint infused, imparting a strong but fresh flavor.


On my garden update, I have finished planting my herb patch, redolent of all things calming as the gentle breeze fills the air. Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, Golden Lemon Thyme, Mint, Lemon Balm, Oregano and Rosemary.


Butternut Squash with Harissa and Coconut Milk 1



Now to sit out with a book and relish it all!



Butternut Squash with Harissa and Coconut Milk


Ingredients: (serves 4-6 as side)

  1. 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 4-5 cups cubed approximately) **
  2. 2 tablespoon oil
  3. 1/4 cup harissa or adjust amount to taste and spice tolerance level
  4. 3/4 inch fresh ginger, peeled and julienned – divided
  5. salt to taste
  6. 1/2 cup cream of coconut + 1/2 cup light coconut milk (of all light coconut milk, if you want a lighter version)
  7. 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  8. few tablespoons of fresh mint leaves, julienned

**Note: yellow pumpkin can be used to substitute butternut squash



Peel and cube butternut squash. Wash and pat dry.

Combine cream of coconut and coconut milk along with sugar and set aside.

Heat oil in a pan. Add half the julienned ginger and stir fry for about half a minute and then add the cubed squash. Add salt and cook them at high heat until the outside of the cubes are coated with the oil and they just start to turn brown at the corners. Add the harissa and toss and cook again at medium heat until all the harissa has coated the cubes. About 2 -3 minutes.

Now add the coconut milk/cream and fresh mint leaves, stir and bring it to a simmer. Cover partially and cook until the butternut squash softens and there is still some liquid left in the pan. Now add the rest of the julienned ginger and stir them in. Finish off with fresh mint leaves.

Serve with rice or flat bread.


Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: Less than 30 minutes

Difficulty Level: Easy

Serves: 4-6 as side

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8 comments to Butternut Squash with Harissa and Coconut Milk

  • Deepa

    Simply marvelous and delicious looking preparation. Squash looks so inviting and wonderful.

  • Jibhe jawl. You do justice to the dear harissa bottle. I am adding it to a lot of things lately too. One day I am going to steal your grey scarf.

  • Fabulous! The kind of combination I enjoy.



  • Lovely pictures and delicious looking curry

  • Un piatto meraviglioso!!!!

  • Your photos are too good!
    I can almost “smell” it….


  • This looks wonderful. Is all that oil in the picture from just 2tbs or did you add extra? I have no problem with oil ( just sugar, wheat and dairy) so I love how rich this dish looks.

    That is not just the 2 tbs oil you see. The Harissa paste also has olive oil in it! Since I make the harissa at home, I add enough oil to cover the top to increase the shelf life. and the coconut cream which I used this time.

  • Hello Soma. Cooked this last night and as usual it was wonderful, although it did not look like your one in the photo. I made the harissa as instructed but put the 1/2 cup oil in the processor so I did not need any water while blending. I also used 1 cup coconut milk instead of cream and light milk, which should be very similar, But the finished dish was creamy with no oil on top like yours. Have I done something wrong?.

    I do not think you did anything wrong. The cream of coconut has fat. The milk is usually lighter with no less flavors. So that could be the difference. Also if you scooped the harissa for cooking this with less oil – that could be another. But as long as it was creamy and you liked it, it should not really make the difference. For everyday meals I usually remove floating oil like this to make it healthy.

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