Pumpkin kapitan

In Abby Lee's vegetarian version of kari kapitan, or captain curry, roasted crown prince squash is served alongside a sweet and sour stew. The foundation of this recipe is a rempah, a slow-cooked paste of different aromatics like lemongrass, galangal and shallots. It forms the backbone of many Malaysian (and Singaporean) dishes.

First published in 2023




Rempah (paste)



Roughly chop the lemongrass, red chilli, garlic, shallot, ginger and galangal. Add to food processor, along with the softened Kashmiri chilli. Blend until smooth, then mix in the turmeric


Preheat oven to 220°C/gas mark 7


Heat up a saucepan to medium heat, then add the vegetable oil. Once hot, add your rempah to the pan, and stir regularly until the oil separates, about 15-20 minutes. Lower the heat if your rempah starts to caramelise too fast

  • 100g of vegetable oil, plus extra for the spring onions and pumpkin

Stir in the sugar and let it caramelise for a couple of minutes. Next, add tamarind, water and lime leaves. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes. If the curry reduces too much during this cooking process, add splash of water to loosen it up again


In the meantime, slice your pumpkin into 4cm-thick wedges. Drizzle wedges with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick or a fork


While the wedges are roasting, heat up a few centimetres of vegetable oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the spring onions and deep fry until crispy. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels


When there’s 5 minutes to go on your timer for the curry, add in coconut milk. At end of cooking time, add pinch of salt to taste. You might need more sugar or tamarind accordingly


Serve curry with your roasted pumpkin, crispy spring onions and squeeze of lime

  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Abby Lee began her career predominantly cooking Italian food but after moving back to Malaysia during the coronavirus pandemic, began to learn more about the food she grew up eating and decided to pivot towards Malaysian cookery. She has since made a name for herself at her London restaurant Mambow, where her bold modern Malaysian dishes have gone down a storm.

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