Curry and Fonio

Indian Curry with an Ancient African Grain

Butternut Squash Curry is Comfort Food

Sometimes you just need comfort. A gentle, easy Butternut Squash Curry is just the ticket. Tender, sweet squash cubes, bathed in just enough coconut milk and spice to make it creamy will make you feel warmed and nourished from the inside out.

I’ve needed a little comfort lately, after a life-changing loss that has knocked me off my feet. Like every human who is lucky enough to have a mother, I ran smack into the wall of her mortality. I know it’s a natural thing to lose a parent, but it’s left me with a big hole in my life, nonetheless. I was lucky enough to be able to spend time with her for the last weeks, and comfort her as she made her last transition. I posted many of the dishes I cooked for her in the last weeks on my instagram account, to share the love.

The Self-Care Prescription

Grief is universal. But your reaction to it is your choice. A part of me wanted to drown my sorrows in wine, junk food and sleep. But I know better. Now is the time to be gentle with myself, and keep my mind clear. Movement, meditation, and good food are the only balms that aren’t just punishment in disguise.

Of course, one glass of wine is ok, right?

Plant Based Comfort Food

The kitchen is my comfort zone. So, for a kitchen meditation, try this exercise in peeling and cubing butternut squash. It takes a few deep breaths and some concentration, and if you let it, can give you some space. Stop thinking about whatever is buzzing around your head and think about how wonderful it will be to eat this healing food. Butternut Squash Curry will give you a break from what troubles you.

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry with Fonio

Creamy Curry with Tender Squash Cubes and Fonio

Fonio is Comfort Food

Many of you have never had Fonio. It’s the ancient grain of Senegal, and I hope that it will become more available here, soon. I’ve written about it here. If you don’t have any, try this with quinoa.

You don’t have to be grieving to need a delicious, comforting curry like this. Maybe you just had a tough day at work, or a overwhelmed by our shared existential predicament. Feed yourself.

Good food makes everything a little better.

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry over Fonio

Servings 4
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1 tablespoon canola or coconut oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups butternut squash cubes
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cilantro leaves


  • 1 cup fonio or quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • dried currants


  • Peel and dice the squash. 
  • In a large saute pan, drizzle the oil and place the pan over medium-high heat. Warm the oil for a few seconds, then add the onion and stir. Stir until the onions start to crackle, then reduce to medium-low. Cook for at least 10 minutes.
  • Add the ginger and garlic and stir for a few seconds, then add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and pepper flakes and stir. Cook until the spices are fragrant, then add the squash cubes and stir to coat with spices.
  • Add the coconut milk, chickpeas and salt and raise the heat to medium-high to bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low and cover tightly. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the squash is tender when pierced with a paring knife.
  • While the curry cooks, rinse the fonio carefully in a bowl, swirling with cold water to wash away any dust. Carefully pour off the water. Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small pot, then add the rinsed fonio and salt and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover, cook for 2 minutes. Take off the lid, and use a fork to fluff the grain, stirring it up from the bottom of the pot. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.
  • Serve fonio sprinkled with currants, if desired, and topped with curry and cilantro.