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Recipe for slow cooker Indian-spiced butternut squash {vegan, gluten-free}

Indian slow cooker squash

It was love at first sight when the mailman delivered my copy of Anupy Singla's book, The Indian Slow Cooker. Pre-book, my slow cooker dishes all seemed like the same old stew. Now, I'm enjoying my slow cooker more, and I'm preparing Indian food more often, too. This butternut squash is the third dish I've posted here, and it would make a wonderful side to either the Pakistani "old clothes" beef curry or the chicken vindaloo. And, like those two recipes, this one can be made in advance and reheated. It will take longer to cut up the squash than to get the rest of the dish ready for the slow cooker, and if your slow cooker (like mine) has a slightly ill-fitting lid that allows some of the aroma to escape during cooking, you'll be rewarded with the rich scent of Indian spices throughout the day.

Indian spiced slow cooker butternut squash

Slow cooker Indian-spiced butternut squash

From the pantry, you'll need: canola oil, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, onion, turmeric, coriander, brown sugar, garam masala, cayenne pepper, lemon.

Recipe from The Indian Slow Cooker. Serves 6.


2 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 brown cardamom pods
1 2-inch cinnamon stick
1 yellow or red onion, peeled, cut in quarters, and sliced
1 medium tomato, diced
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ground coriander
3 lbs butternut squash, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (approx. 6 cups)
1 large jalapeño or 3-4 Thai or serrano chile peppers, seeded and chopped
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp garam masala
1-2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Cilantro, for garnish (optional)


In a small sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the fenugreek, cumin, cardamom and cinnamon stick. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture sizzles. Add the onion and cook for another minute or two, stirring, until the onion browns slightly. Add to the slow cooker and turn it on HIGH.

Add the tomato, turmeric and coriander, and mix well. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Add the squash, and mix again. Turn the cooker to LOW and cook for 4 hours, stirring once each hour.

Add the jalapeño, brown sugar, garam masala, 1 tsp of salt, cayenne and lemon juice. Stir gently, leaving some chunks of squash whole while others get mashed into the sauce. Taste, and add more salt if needed.

Garnish with cilantro if you like it (I don't), and serve hot with roti, naan, or on its own.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Mushroom bhaji
Salmon tikka
Pakistani "old clothes" beef curry in the slow cooker
Roasted winter squash with cranberries, pepitas and honey-lime vinaigrette
Slow cooker chicken vindaloo
Butternut squash macaroni and cheese

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Green beans with garam masala buter and toasted hazelnuts, from Steamy Kitchen
Fenugreek seeds with potatoes, from eCurry
Cha ca thang long (Vietnamese turmeric fish with dill), from Ravenous Couple
Roasted eggplant with yogurt-turmeric sauce, from Fearless Kitchen
Cornbread with green chiles and cinnamon, from Gluten-Free Goddess

  Slow cooker Indian-spiced butternut squash, from The Perfect Pantry.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


There's a pumpkin waiting for me, happy to masquerade as a butternut for this one.
My lid story: glass lid broke, many years of bad alternatives and no store carried replacements. At last, at our town recycling, there was an almost perfect lid -- just enough of a crack to let all these delicious scents escape.

Although I love my slow cooker, I also feel like ..."my slow cooker dishes all seemed like the same old stew"...
So thanks for a more creative dish! I am ready to start adventuring!

I think I may have this book, and as usual, I probably tucked it away after I bought it and forgot about it. I agree that my slow cooker contents need a remake - this recipe has two things going for it - butternut squash and such fragrant spices.

I'm falling in love with this cookbook from the recipes you've posted from it!

I always make the same ol' pork dish with my slow cooker (mostly because it's so good), but it's time to get adventurous. I have everything in your recipe but the squash...maybe I could even make this tonight!

By the way, mentioned you in my post today. Thanks for all the great food ideas.

What size slow cooker did you use? This sounds divine.

I love butternut squash and this looks delicious. I will definitely be making it

Susan, I love my slow cooker with its wobbly lid. It works just fine, but the house always smells amazing when I use it.

Carol, this cookbook has helped me understand how to use spices in the slow cooker. Really, it's made all the difference.

TW, you must find the book! I'm enjoying it more than I've enjoyed any cookbook in a long time. It's changed my whole view of Indian cooking and the complicated spice blending.

Kalyn, I've never had this much fun making Indian food!

Sarah, that's the rut I fell into, also -- making my few favorite slow cooker dishes over and over. This book has helped me break out.

Alta, thanks for asking. I used a 4-quart cooker.

Maris, I'm partial to butternut squash, too, and I can still buy storage squash at our local apple farm.

Don't you just love this book? The author spoke at BlogHer Food this past year and about 5 min after she said the title, "Indian Slow Cooker" I bolted to the book table and bought it! We've loved the recipes we've tried so far. And, you're right, it offers such flavorful new options for using the slow cooker.

Oh wow, this sounds wonderful! Butternut squash is one of my favorite foods, but I've never had it prepared as an Indian dish. I love that it's a slow cooker recipe, too. Awesome!

WOW... this sounds like you made it delicious! They say a dish is the product of the hands that made it...Thank you for taking the time to purchase my book and make the recipes your own. Hugs...Anupy

I, too, love this book! I have only made a few things in it, the chicken vindaloo and curried chickpeas, and both have were memorable. Where do you get your fenugreek seeds? I can't find them anywhere at the store. Online?

Christina, I get fenugreek seeds at my local Indian market. Try Penzeys or The Spice House online; both should carry them.

I found them at my local organic market, after buying some online. Are you using ground or the whole seeds? Most recipes just say "seeds" but I've found them both ways. By the way, I made this, omitting them, and it was my favorite recipe from the book thus far. Thanks for the inspiration!

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