Malaysian squash and courgette rending with red lentils by Jo Pratt

Jo Pratt

Jo Pratt

13th November 2017
Jo Pratt

Malaysian squash and courgette rending with red lentils by Jo Pratt

This is a regular in my house and I’ll often make double the amount of curry paste and keep it in a jar in the fridge for future quick-prep suppers. The squash, red pepper and courgette provide fabulous colour, and the added split red lentils result in a thick sauce that’s nutritionally balanced.


  • Time taken 40 minutes / Serves 4
  • olive oil
  • 8–10 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ tsp whole cloves
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, torn into quarters
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into
  • 3–4cm/1¼–1½ inch chunks
  • 1 red (bell) pepper, deseeded and cut into
  • 2–3cm/¾–1¼ inch chunks
  • 150g/7 oz red split lentils
  • 400ml/14 fl oz tin coconut milk
  • 400ml/14 fl oz/12⁄3 cups vegetable stock
  • handful coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp agave or maple syrup
  • 2 medium courgettes (zucchini), cut into 2–3cm/ ¾–1¼ inch chunks
  • flaked sea salt
  • lime wedges, to serve
  • For the spice paste
  • 4 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, roughly chopped
  • 2½cm/1 inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2½cm/1 inch piece galangal, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 long red chillies, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp sunflower or groundnut oil
  • 1 tsp flaked sea salt


To make the spice paste, put all the ingredients into a small food processor or blender and blitz to form a smooth paste. Set aside or keep covered in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the paste and fry for a minute or so. Add the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cloves and lime leaves. Fry for a further minute, then add the butternut squash, red pepper and lentils. Stir around to coat in the paste, then pour in the coconut milk and stock. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a small dry frying pan over a medium heat. Add the coconut flakes and agave/maple syrup, and toss around in the pan until golden and crisp. Remove from the heat.
Stir the courgette into the curry. Return to a simmer and continue to cook, with the lid off, for a further 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
Serve the curry in bowls and scatter over the coconut. Serve with lime to squeeze over.
The spice paste can be used in the same way as above to make a chicken rendang. Swap the squash, lentils and courgette for 4 large chicken breasts (cut into chunks) and cook as above. You won’t need to use the vegetable stock as this is only needed when using lentils. Reduce the simmering time to just 10 minutes in total, rather than 20 minutes. If you fancy adding a vegetable such as baby corn or green beans, then add them when the chicken is half cooked.

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.