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Red Curry with Pumpkin | Gang Dang Fak Tong | แกงเผ็ดฟักทอง

Red Curry with Pumpkin | Gang Dang Fak Tong | แกงเผ็ดฟักทองOne of the first Thai dishes the boyfriend made for me was curry.  It was pretty early on in our relationship and I was stuck at work really late one night.  He made a huge pot of delicious yellow curry with chicken and potatoes and left it for me in the refrigerator with a sweet note on the door saying that dinner was ready.

I fell in love with yellow curry after the boyfriend made it for me that night.  It’s flavorful without being too spicy, rich but not overpoweringly so, and filled with things like chicken and potatoes that are fully recognizable to my Western palate.  It’s really a great starting place if you’re new to Thai food.  

However, once you’ve grown accustomed to the flavors of yellow curry, you’d be remiss if you didn’t branch out to try some of the other Thai curries including the red and green varieties.  They are spicier, yes, but also much more flavorful and fragrant than yellow curry is.  This is because they’re typically cooked with kaffir lime leaves and Thai basil in addition to the spices in the curry paste itself.  These herbs provide a wonderfully fragrant flavor that really elevates the curry beyond a simple paste of spices cooked in a creamy coconut sauce.

I found myself craving just such a curry recently, so I set out to make a red curry with  pumpkin.  If you’ve been following along recently, you’ll know that I haven’t been able to get enough pumpkin of late (see Thai-style sukiyaki, suki dry noodles, a seasonal rendition of coconut milk soup, and a whole pumpkin custard).  And pumpkin actually works really well in this red curry, giving it a subtle sweetness that complements its inherent spiciness and the fragrance of the lime leaves and basil really well.    

So while yellow curry will always be dear to my heart, my mouth yearns for the spice and fragrance of this red curry and it certainly didn’t disappoint.  Give it a try and see for yourself! 

Red Curry with Pumpkin | Gang Dang Fak Tong | แกงเผ็ดฟักทอง


Red Curry with Pumpkin | Gang Dang Fak Tong | แกงเผ็ดฟักทอง

Makes 3-4 servings

Red Curry with Pumpkin | Gang Dang Fak Tong | แกงเผ็ดฟักทอง


  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 cup boneless, skinless chicken, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups kabocha squash, cubed
  • 2-3 kaffir lime leaves, sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teapsoon sugar
  • 1 cup Thai basil leaves


  1. Scoop the top 1/3 of a cup off the top of a can of coconut milk to get the thicker coconut cream. Heat the cream over medium high heat until it starts to bubble.
  2. Add your red curry paste and mix until it's well incorporated with the coconut cream. Then add the other 2/3 cup of the thinner coconut milk.
  3. Add your chicken, coat with the curry coconut paste, and let cook through.
  4. Next add your kabocha squash, kaffir lime leaf ribbons, and some water. The amount of water depends on how big your pieces of squash are and therefore how long it will take for them to cook. I generally add about a cup of water to start and then adjust this once the squash is cooked to get the curry to my desired thickness.
  5. While the squash is cooking, taste the curry and adjust the flavors. I generally need to add just a teaspoon each of fish sauce and sugar, but this will depend on which curry paste you use (I use the Mae Anong brand).
  6. Once your squash is cooked and curry has the perfect taste and texture, take it off the heat and add your Thai basil leaves. Stir them in to incorporate and then garnish with fresh basil and a few additional kaffir lime leaf ribbons. Serve with jasmine rice and enjoy!

15 comments… add one
  • Daniel Mackay April 4, 2015, 9:43 pm

    I have been cooking with Maesri curry pastes for a few years now and stand by them. My favorite thai resturant in Austin, Tx that also runs a small thai grocery store and cooking school swears by this brand and is who turned me on to them. Palm sugar is very necessary with this brand of paste. Fish sauce is also a necessity if you really want to achive that umami flavor profile. I really appreciate all the hard work that goes into this blog Rachel!

  • noa October 3, 2014, 10:00 pm

    will tofo work insted of chiken?


    • Rachel October 4, 2014, 2:33 pm

      Sure! I tend to use fried tofu instead of regular so that it will stand up better in the curry. It’s also best to add it towards the end rather than the beginning like you would chicken, if it’s already fried.

  • Chantelle May 24, 2014, 10:27 pm

    Hey Rachel, love love love all your recipes, can’t wait to try this one tonight! Reading your site just makes me want to go back to Thailand. Have you or your partner ever had coconut cream in the little porcelain cups, it’s not like what we think coconut cream to be, more like a jello?

  • Sarah June 19, 2013, 11:36 pm

    @Sara, I made this recipe with Mae Ploy and it was great. That seems to be a good brand – I know chefs who use it (all types – red, yellow, green, Panang, Massaman).
    @Rachel: I ended up putting a few Tbs of tom yum soup (from a can, product made in Thailand) into my leftover yellow curry and it became a lot more interesting and complex. Have you ever tried that? I love your web site and I can’t wait to try more. This is my first time cooking Thai food. I am ecstatic that I can make my favorite dish at home now!

  • Sara April 11, 2013, 6:11 pm


    I love all the recipes you have here and I’ve tried making curry a couple times but none of the curry pastes I try work! Are there other brands that I can find at my local Asian grocery that you have found that work besides the one you list in the Pantry page? I’d love not to have to order curry paste online. Thanks so much!

    • Rachel April 13, 2013, 1:04 am

      Hi Sara, I haven’t tried all of the curry pastes out there, but I would imagine that any brand that’s made in Thailand would be pretty good…

    • Sara April 14, 2013, 10:22 pm

      Are there any specific brands you have tried that worked? For example a brand called “Mae Ploy”? I really want to make a good curry but am losing patience with all the bad curry pastes!


    • Rachel April 14, 2013, 10:35 pm

      Hi Sara, unfortunately I haven’t tried the Mae Ploy brand. Once we found the Mae Anong brand, we were happy and haven’t needed to try anything else. If you do try it, please let us know what you think!

    • Lance July 16, 2013, 1:59 am

      Based on my experience with curry pastes imported from Thailand and depending on the dish, the three best curry paste brands are Nittaya, Mae Ploy and Mae Anong. Which of these I choose for a dish depends on the “salt” and “heat” factors. Nittaya is a curry paste that will make beautiful, fragrant curries with a great balance between spicy and salty while still allowing you room to add the wonderful earthiness of fish sauce. Mae Ploy is another personal favourite, but it does lean toward the spicy. Mae Anong has a quite low salt content, so this paste is perfect for making fish cakes or other items where you can add as little or as much of the paste as you want for flavour without worrying about the dish getting too salty. If you make a traditional curry with it, you also have lots of room to attain a very rich depth of flavour with fish sauce.

      When buying a curry paste, check the ingredient list and if salt or shrimp paste is high on the list then you are likely dealing with a “salty” curry paste. For example, the Aroy-D brand was a complete disaster for me because the salt content is so high. When I tried it the salt content was so high that the other flavours were lost and I had no room to add any fish sauce. As an aside: Aroy-D brand coconut milk in the cardboard boxes is one of the better coconut milk offerings I have found. It doesn’t contain emulsifiers and allows you to “crack” the coconut milk to get a beautiful oily finish to your curries.

      One final thing – I have heard good things about the Maesri brand of curry paste, but I haven’t yet tried it. Has anyone else?

    • Rachel July 16, 2013, 2:08 am

      Thanks so much for your insights, Lance! I actually have all of these brands of curry paste in my pantry, but haven’t gotten around to doing a taste comparison yet… Will have to try them soon!

  • Briana August 17, 2012, 7:22 pm

    Do you suppose you could use butternut squash in this recipe instead of the kabocha? Thanks!

    • Rachel August 18, 2012, 9:38 pm

      Hi Briana, I would think butternut squash would work well, but I haven’t tried it. Let me know how it turns out if you do!

  • Rachel November 29, 2011, 6:00 pm

    Thanks for the comment! You can substitute salt for fish sauce. Just be sure to taste the curry as you’re making it because the amount of salt will depend on which curry paste you use. Some need a lot of salt and some don’t need much (or any) at all. Best of luck!

  • Tastespotting peruser November 29, 2011, 5:30 pm

    Looks so good.
    Please. what to do without fish sauce and chicken? I’d use tofu though. Just not use fish sauce and leave it blank? I am a complete novice at cooking. Thank you very much

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