Butternut-chilli mash

The sweetness of pumpkin meets its match in some chilli heat for an addictively good little side dish.


If you were to make a mash entirely from butternut pumpkin it would be sweet, which is a fine thing in itself. However, to spike it with enough chilli to raise its head above the parapet of all that sweetness would render it inedibly hot. The trick, I’ve discovered, is to tone down the pumpkin with potato. The result is a pleasing balance of sugar and fire, simple, versatile and, most of all, addictively edible.

Unlike my regular all-potato mash, I peel and steam the vegetables. I don’t have an actual steamer: I improvise with a sturdy pot of boiling water under a metal colander and a snug lid, from another pan, on top of that. It’s a bit of MacGyvering that works beautifully.

The flesh of the long red chilli is not what really carries the heat: it’s the seeds. While I’ll use the whole chilli, finely chopped, I don’t deseed it too thoroughly, and allow some of that intensity into the mash as a result. You can adapt to your own tastes on the sliding scale from all to none as you like.

Finally, I stir in a knob butter for richness, but feel free to substitute with olive oil. Likewise, I don’t puree to creamy smoothness – which is why I use a fork, rather casually, to mash, leaving some texture behind – but I know some people prefer their mash totally silky, which will require other more hardcore implements. Do it your way, and make it your own.

Butternut-chilli mash


250g (½ pound) butternut pumpkin
250g (½ pound) potato
25g (2 tablespoons) butter
½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
1 long red chilli

Peel and chop the butternut pumpkin and potato into 5cm (2 inch) chunks. Steam over a pan of boiling water for 20 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, finely chop the chilli and selectively deseed.

Remove the steamer, pour the water out and return the vegetables to the pan. Add the butter and salt, mashing with a fork until it's as smooth as you like it.

Stir in the chopped chilli and serve immediately.