Malaysian-style vegetable and lime leaf curry with cucumber relish

  • Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus cooling
  • Cooking time: 40 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes, plus cooling

Serves: 6


1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, sliced
500g butternut squash, cubed • 400ml coconut milk • 1 cinnamon stick
1 whole star anise
6 lime leaves*, 4 bruised, 2 finely shredded
250ml vegetable stock
200g small tomatoes, halved
190g pack sugar snaps and baby corn
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp palm or light muscovado sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce (or light soy sauce)

4 garlic cloves
3 red chillies
2 lemon grass stems
15g fresh root ginger
3 small shallots
1 tsp ground turmeric

3 tbsp caster sugar
6 tbsp rice wine vinegar
¾ tsp salt
1 large cucumber
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
2 small shallots, finely sliced
handful coriander, chopped


1. To make the relish, put the sugar, vinegar, salt and 3 tbsp water in a small pan set over a low heat. Stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved; set aside to cool.

2. Top and tail the cucumber, then quarter lengthwise, cutting away some of the watery seeds (no need to remove them all). Finely slice the quarters to make triangles. Add to the sugar-vinegar mixture with the remaining ingredients; set aside.

3. To make the curry, heat the oil in a wok or deep frying pan. Add the onion and squash and cook over a medium heat, stirring, for about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, roughly chop the curry paste ingredients (apart from the turmeric) and whizz together (with the turmeric) in a small food processor. Add the paste to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, turning the heat down if it catches. Stir in the coconut milk, cinnamon stick, star anise and bruised lime leaves. Bring to a brisk simmer.

4. Add the vegetable stock and tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the sugar snaps and baby corn and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice, sugar and fish (or soy) sauce. Check the seasoning, adding salt as needed. Scatter with the finely shredded lime leaves and serve with the cucumber relish and some steamed rice, if liked.