Asian Recipes/ Curry/ Dinner/ Pumpkin/ Recipes

Creamy Sri Lankan Pumpkin Curry – Wattakka Kalu Pol

08/06/2021

A creamy Sri Lankan Pumpkin Curry ready in under 30 minutes! Wattakka Kalu Pol is naturally vegan and infused with aromatic spices and roasted coconut.

Bowl and spoon filled with Sri Lankan pumpkin curry.

Why We Love This

This satisfying curry is naturally vegan and vegetarian friendly, full of rich flavours the whole family will love – even the non-vegetarians!

There’s so much flavour in this creamy thick pumpkin curry infused with spices and luscious coconut. Enjoy it as a tasty side dish or comforting main with fluffy white rice. 

It’s a great way to use up pumpkins, especially when they are in season. The aromatic spices will fill your whole kitchen with their warm aroma.

Close of soft pumpkin in wattakka kalu pol curry.

What is Wattakka Kalu Pol? 

Wattakka Kalu Pol is a spicy, creamy Sri Lankan Pumpkin Curry like no other! Kalu pol means ‘black coconut’ and refers to the dark toasted coconut, rice and spice powder, while wattakka means ‘pumpkin’.

The toasted spices give this pumpkin curry it’s unique flavour compared to other types, like the popular Thai Pumpkin Curry. Toasted rice powder also helps to thicken the curry.

This curry is a great example of a savoury dish for pandan leaves, especially if you have some leftover from making pandan chicken or dadar gulung (Indonesian coconut pancakes).

White bowl with spicy wattakka kalu pol curry.

What You’ll Need

  • Pumpkin – While you can use any kind of pumpkin, the best choice is Japanese pumpkin (also known as kabocha). Leave the skin on for extra savoury flavour.
  • Curry Powder – Traditionally, this recipe calls for Sri Lankan style roasted curry powder, from brands such as Wijaya. Feel free to make this at home or sub with any curry powder you have on hand. 
  • Aromatics – You’ll need fresh or frozen pandan leaves and whole curry leaves for the best flavour. Sub with 1-2 drops of pandan flavouring (also known as pasta pandan) – but note it will turn your curry slightly green if you do. 
  • Spices – We use minced garlic and ginger for convenience, you can use fresh if you prefer. You’ll also need sliced fresh chilli (sub with chilli powder), mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds for flavour, and turmeric powder for that classic golden colour.
  • Coconut – Start with finely ground desiccated coconut, then dry fry until it becomes a rich, dark brown colour. Grind into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or food processor.
  • Toasted Rice Powder – This amazing ingredient adds a burst of nutty flavour. Look for it at your nearest Asian grocery – we found our first batch near the spices section, so try there first. It’s very simple to make at home using whole glutinous rice grains if you need.
Ingredients laid out to make wattakka kalu pol.

How to make Sri Lankan Pumpkin Curry:

  1. In a small saucepan, dry fry the desiccated coconut until browned, around 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Optional: Grind into a powder with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan and fry the shallot, garlic, ginger, chilli, pandan and curry leaves until fragrant, around 1 – 2 minutes on high heat.
  1. Add in the pumpkin pieces and sprinkle over the curry powder, turmeric powder, fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds. Toss with a spoon to coat.. Mix through and fry for another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Pour in the coconut milk, toasted desiccated coconut and toasted rice powder, and bring to a boil, before turning the heat to medium and letting it simmer until the pumpkin is soft (around 15 – 20 minutes).

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Thicken Curry – You can thicken the curry one of two ways – by cooking it down further on a low simmer, or by adding a cornflour slurry (1 tbsp cornflour + 2 tbsp cold water, mixed) and stirring it through.
  • Big Chunks Work Best – We’ve found that working with large pumpkin chunks work well, as they take a little longer to cook, allowing the sauce to cook down without the pumpkin turning to mush. The bigger pieces also tend to hold their shape for better presentation in the final dish.

FAQs

What should I serve with pumpkin curry?

This dish is traditionally served with steamed white rice and Sri Lankan pickles (achcharu) and a Sri Lankan style coconut relish known as pol sambol or coconut sambol. Make it a feast with a side of Sri Lankan deviled potatoes, crispy fried spring rolls, pandan chicken bites or a light zesty salad.

What pumpkin is best for Sri Lankan pumpkin curry?

Japanese Pumpkin (kabocha) is a great variety for curries. You can cook the pieces with skin on which helps to both keep the shape while cooking and bring a savoury note to the curry so it’s not overly sweet.

What gives Wattakka Kalu Pol it’s unique flavour?

Sri Lankan pumpkin curry is unique in that it uses roasted curry powder, roasted coconut and toasted rice powder to give it a real earthy and aromatic flavour, making it feel extra creamy with infused with coconut milk.

Variations

  • Spice Level – Add more fresh chilli or chilli powder to amp up the heat, or reduce the amount for a milder curry.  
  • Add Proteins – Try it with chicken, beef or tofu. Fry for a few minutes along with the pumpkin and aromatics to seal in the juices.
  • Make it Thicker – Swap the curry powder for Japanese curry roux.
Close up of pot with pumpkin pieces in creamy coconut curry.

Keep the fire burning with these spicy dishes next:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

White bowl full of creamy pumpkin curry.

Creamy Sri Lankan Pumpkin Curry – Wattakka Kalu Pol

A creamy Sri Lankan Pumpkin Curry ready in under 30 minutes! Wattakka Kalu Pol is naturally vegan and infused with aromatic spices and roasted coconut.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Sri Lankan
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 2144kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $8

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, dry fry the desiccated coconut until browned, around 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Optional: Grind into a powder with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan and fry the shallot, garlic, ginger, chilli, pandan and curry leaves until fragrant, around 1 – 2 minutes on high heat.
  • Add in the pumpkin pieces and sprinkle over the curry powder, turmeric powder, fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds. Toss with a spoon to coat.. Mix through and fry for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Pour in the coconut milk, toasted desiccated coconut and toasted rice powder, and bring to a boil, before turning the heat to medium and letting it simmer until the pumpkin is soft (around 15 – 20 minutes).
  • Optional: Remove pandan leaves and curry leaves before serving.

Video

Recipe Notes

  • Thicken Curry – You can thicken the curry one of two ways – by cooking it down further on a low simmer, or by adding a cornflour slurry (1 tbsp cornflour + 2 tbsp cold water, mixed) and stirring it through.
  • Big Chunks Work Best – We’ve found that working with large pumpkin chunks work well, as they take a little longer to cook, allowing the sauce to cook down without the pumpkin turning to mush. The bigger pieces also tend to hold their shape for better presentation in the final dish.
  • Pumpkin – We recommend Japanese pumpkin (also known as kabocha). Leave the skin on for extra savoury flavour.
  • Spices – We use minced garlic and ginger for convenience, you can use fresh if you prefer. You’ll also need sliced fresh chilli (sub with chilli powder).
  • Toasted Rice Powder – This amazing ingredient adds a burst of nutty flavour. Look for it at your nearest Asian grocery – we found our first batch near the spices section, so try there first. It’s very simple to make at home using whole glutinous rice grains if you need.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Creamy Sri Lankan Pumpkin Curry – Wattakka Kalu Pol
Amount per Serving
Calories
2144
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
195
g
300
%
Saturated Fat
 
168
g
1050
%
Sodium
 
127
mg
6
%
Potassium
 
5087
mg
145
%
Carbohydrates
 
111
g
37
%
Fiber
 
17
g
71
%
Sugar
 
31
g
34
%
Protein
 
31
g
62
%
Vitamin A
 
73112
IU
1462
%
Vitamin C
 
275
mg
333
%
Calcium
 
434
mg
43
%
Iron
 
38
mg
211
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Creamy Sri Lankan Pumpkin Curry - Wattakka Kalu Pol

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Corrie
    30/09/2021 at 11:31 pm

    5 stars
    Hey! I have made this twice now and its amazing. The flavour is awesome. I made this as a variation with fish, halving the amount of pumpkin and it was sensational. Thanks for the lovely recipe.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      02/10/2021 at 1:53 pm

      Awesome Corrie, thanks so much for letting us know. Great idea to add protein to your dish! 🙂

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