Try this delightful turkey coconut milk curry! This great meal features tender turkey and sweet pumpkin in a creamy coconut sauce - a perfect blend of comforting flavors.
This easy recipe for turkey coconut milk curry has been a favorite of mine for years! I first cooked it long ago, and my whole family loved it, so I've kept making it; the only thing I ever change is the sort of pumpkin I use. It's hard to describe how tender the turkey is and how tasty the pumpkin cubes are. They're all in this creamy coconut sauce, making the dish incredibly delicious and complete.
Easy to prepare, using simple ingredients, and satisfyingly delicious, the turkey coconut curry comes together in less than one hour and in just a few simple steps. Ideal for gatherings or cozy meals, this curry adds an exotic touch to your table without hassle.
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🍲Why does this creamy curry work?
- Delicious flavor: The mix of turkey, pumpkin, coconut sauce, and great spices creates a delicious flavor.
- Easy preparation: The turkey coconut milk curry is a simple recipe that doesn't require complicated cooking techniques or hard-to-find ingredients - a super easy dinner, the perfect weeknight meal.
- Versatility: You can use either butternut squash or Hokkaido pumpkin based on what you like or have on hand.
- Great for gatherings as it can easily be prepared in advance and reheated. You can also double or triple the batch to make plenty of food for a crowd, provided you have a pot that’s large enough.
- Turkey breast: Skinless, boneless turkey breast cut into bite-sized cubes.
- Butternut squash or Hokkaido pumpkin: I use whichever one I have, and we enjoy both types.
- If you're using butternut squash for the turkey curry, you must peel it first. But if you opt for Hokkaido (also known as red Kuri squash), there's no need to peel it because its skin is soft and won't be noticed after cooking.
- Full-fat coconut milk from a can. You can use light if you like, but the regular coconut milk is creamier and more flavorful.
- Vegetables: Red bell or pointed peppers and green onions.
- Chili: One small, dried, or a little bit of fresh chili, red chili, or red pepper flakes. When using any type of chili, it is always recommended to add it to taste.
- Chicken stock: Either homemade or store-bought chicken broth or stock.
- Other spices and herbs: Garlic, fresh ginger, turmeric, fine sea salt or kosher salt, ground black pepper, fresh cilantro, or parsley.
👩🏻🍳How to make turkey curry with coconut milk?
Prepare the squash or pumpkin: Grate or process 7 oz/ 200 g and cube the rest.
Chop the vegetables, ginger, garlic and chili. Keep them separated.
Cut the meat into cubes.
Sear the turkey in several batches on medium-high heat.
Return all meat to the pan, add the spices, and stir for 2 minutes.
Add peppers, pumpkin, chicken stock, and coconut milk, and simmer until everything’s tender.
After 15 minutes of cooking.
Add green onions and cook for another 2 minutes. Adjust the taste.
Use sweet potatoes instead of pumpkin or squash.
Swap the coconut milk for heavy cream. This would likely result in a different flavor profile, as heavy cream tends to be richer and less sweet than coconut milk, but you will also love it!
Substitute the spices with about one tablespoon of curry powder, your favorite kind. We love garam masala.
Ground turkey curry: Cook the lean ground turkey until it is no longer pink. Stir in the spices. Follow the remaining instructions to finish the curry.
Leftover turkey curry: Use leftover roast turkey meat or leftover chicken to make this creamy turkey curry. Stir the pumpkin cubes and the spices into the olive oil for about 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (except meat) and cook as instructed. Add chopped or shredded turkey during the last 5 minutes of cooking and reheat it.
Protein alternatives: Replace turkey with chicken, tofu, or chickpeas.
Vegetables: You can add spinach, kale, frozen peas, or green beans to the turkey coconut milk curry.
The grated pumpkin will kind of “meltdown” in the sauce, making it creamier and thicker.
Cut the meat and the squash into similar-sized pieces to ensure even cooking and a pleasant-looking dish.
Control the heat by adjusting the amount of chili or chili powder added. Remove the seeds and membranes from the chili for a milder flavor, or omit it entirely for a mild version.
Thicken the sauce if desired. I noticed I only have to thicken the sauce when using light coconut milk. But if you would like a thicker sauce anyway, mix one tablespoon of cornstarch with enough cold water to make a slurry. Slowly whisk the slurry into the simmering turkey coconut curry and let it bubble for about 1 minute until thicker.
Absolutely! Chicken works well as a substitute for turkey in this recipe. Adjust the cooking time accordingly, as chicken may cook faster than turkey.
Feel free to substitute with other flavorful pumpkins or squashes available in your area. Or use sweet potatoes.
The turkey curry with coconut milk is excellent for preparing in advance. Simply reheat it gently before serving. The flavors often deepen and improve when made a day ahead.
Leftover turkey coconut milk curry can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Freeze it in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost it in the fridge.
Reheat the curry in a small pan on the stove or in a microwave-safe container in the microwave.
🍽️What to serve with it?
Steamed rice: White or brown rice serves as a classic and simple accompaniment to soak up the flavorful sauce of the curry. Basmati rice is our favorite.
Naan bread: Soft and fluffy Indian naan bread is perfect for scooping up the curry. You can also try other flatbreads like roti, pita, or pappadums.
Quinoa: For a healthier alternative, serve the curry with quinoa.
Cauliflower rice: If you're looking for a low-carb option, cauliflower rice is an excellent substitute for regular rice.
Side salad: A fresh salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a simple vinaigrette.
Cucumber or carrot raita: Their cool, creamy, and slightly tangy nature makes it a perfect complement to the rich and flavorful curry.
Chutney or pickles: Mango chutney, lime pickle, or any other tangy Indian condiments.
Yogurt: A dollop of Greek yogurt can cool down the heat of the turkey coconut milk curry for those who prefer a milder dish.
Creamy Turkey Coconut Milk Curry
- Large deep skillet or Dutch oven
- 1 small butternut squash or Hokkaido pumpkin 1.5 lbs/ 700 g Note 1
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1.5 lbs turkey breast 700 g
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 dried chili or ½ teaspoon red chili flakes or to taste, Note 2
- 1 piece of ginger about the size of a walnut
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 red peppers bell or red pointed peppers
- 1 cup chicken stock 250 ml
- 1 can coconut milk 14 oz/ 400 ml
- 1 bunch green onions
- cilantro or parsley
- fine sea salt and ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch optional, Note 3
- Pumpkin: If using butternut squash, peel it. Hokkaido pumpkin doesn’t need peeling. Process or finely grate 7 oz/ 200 g of the pumpkin or squash. Cut the remaining pumpkin into cubes.1 small butternut squash or Hokkaido pumpkin
- Turkey: Cut the turkey breast into cubes. Both pumpkin and turkey cubes should be of similar size. Vegetables: Mince the garlic cloves, chili, and ginger. Cut the peppers into small cubes and chop the green onions. Keep the ingredients separated as they have different cooking times.1.5 lbs turkey breast + 2 garlic cloves + 1 dried chili + 1 piece of ginger + 2 red peppers + 1 bunch green onions
- Sear turkey: Heat the oil. Sear the turkey breast cubes on medium-high heat in several batches. Don't overcrowd the pan; otherwise, the meat will steam in its juices instead of being seared.
- Simmer turkey curry: Return all the meat to the pan, add salt, garlic, ginger, chili, and turmeric, and let it cook for about 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the bell peppers, ground pumpkin, chicken stock, and coconut milk, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the pumpkin cubes and the meat are tender.1 teaspoon turmeric + 1 cup chicken stock + 1 can coconut milk
- Add the chopped green onions and cook for another 2 minutes. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper and scatter the cilantro over.cilantro + fine sea salt and ground black pepper
- Thicken the curry if desired. Mix cornstarch with 1-2 tablespoons of cold water. Whisk the slurry into the simmering curry and let it bubble for about 1 minute until the sauce thickens slightly.1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Butternut squash or pumpkin: I use butternut squash or Hokkaido pumpkin interchangeably in this recipe. They have a slightly different texture (Hokkaido is creamier) and flavor (both delicious), but we love both versions.
- Heat: Use chili or red chili flakes to taste. ½ teaspoon red chili flakes yield a moderately hot curry, but I find it depends on your brand; some are hotter than others.
- Cornstarch for thickening the sauce: I noticed I only have to thicken the sauce when I am using light coconut milk. But if you would like a thicker sauce anyway, thicken it with cornstarch.