10 Pumpkin Dishes to Try in Houston: #7: "Halloween" Pumpkin Curry from Khun Kay Thai Café

I adore pumpkin. It's orange (my favorite color), healthful (fiber! Vitamin A!), and associated with two lovely, food-centric holidays (Halloween and Thanksgiving). Starting around October, I always find myself on the hunt for pumpkin-flavored foods, and this autumn is no exception. So, between now and Turkey Day, I will be counting down 10 Pumpkin Dishes to Try in Houston.

#7: "Halloween" Pumpkin Curry from Khun Kay Thai Café

As the main ingredient of many autumnal breads, muffins and, of course, pies, pumpkin may seem to lend itself more to sweet rather than savory dishes. But the wonderful pumpkin curry ($9, with choice of chicken, tofu or shrimp) at Khun Kay Thai Cafe proves that orange squash need not be confined to the world of baked goods.

Now, lest you cite me on a technicality, I should acknowledge that the pumpkin featured in the Café's curry is not one of the bright-orange type common to North America but rather the dark green kobacha species (in Thai, phak tong). But both squashes are of the same genus curcubita and therefore closely related.

Although Thai pumpkins are more understated in flavor than North American pumpkins, the multiple thick chunks in this dish vastly benefit from a vibrant "red" (actually, light orange) curry base. The mild coconut cream softens the pumpkin's fibrous texture, while pungent red chiles and turmeric infuse its meat with a subtle spice. A similar effect occurred with the lean white meat chicken, which became tender almost to the point of being pleasantly soggy -- akin to cereal with just a bit too much milk.

Along with the curry comes a sizeable dome of white or brown rice; I suggest dumping the whole serving into your bowl so that every grain absorbs a maximum amount of delicious sauce.

Khun Kay Thai Cafe has traditionally offered a seasonal curry, and in the past, other EOW bloggers have praised these specials. Come late September, they began advertising this "Halloween" curry. I for one hope the holiday lasts forever.

The list to date: #10: Pumpkin Cheesecake Balls at Chocolat Du Monde #9: Dogfish Head Punkin Ale #8: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin from Stone Mill Bakers

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Joanna O'Leary