Pumpkin Curry and when food says “You are Welcome.”

Remember that one time, Lisa and I spent a day discovering the Art of Kindness? That was a very special day and one of the very special places that we visited was the Asylum Seeker’s Centre. Good things happen there.

Refugee Centre

The centre supports clients with everything from casework, accommodation, financial relief, health care and counselling, employment assistance, education, nutrition and social support.

Over the last 12 months, the centre has cared for 1,238 asylum seekers. 100% of those 1,238 people received no government support, not one cent. The clients come from 74 different countries and although they may be of  different faiths, different colours and come from different places, the thing they  have in common is that  they are  all searching for safety, protection and freedom, something that I think we enjoy (and take for granted) every day.

The centre is a not-for-profit organisation and relies on grants, donations and volunteers to undertake their work which is pretty amazing when you consider that last year they provided  over 4,853 one-on-one job consultations, more than 8,760 hot meals and in excess of 7,777 food parcels. But that’s not all.  They also provided over 12,000 casework hours, assisted with 31,632 accommodation nights, provided more than 713 legal consultations and over 3,293 health consultations.

Anyways, it turns out my mate Nicky,  along with a network of friends, have been volunteering at the centre for some time. Once a month they  prepare and cook a delicious repast at home and then take it to the centre and serve lunch to the clients. It turns out that there is an army of about 150 volunteers just like Nicky and friends, who come to the centre and make sure that the clients get a hot meal every day of the week. That’s a whole lot of yum!

The irony that neither me nor Nicky, nor Sheelagh nor Jeannie were  born in Australia was not lost on us. We feel very lucky that we have so many choices and that we get to choose to call Australia home.

Refugee Centre

Jeannie made an uber pasta bake, Nicky made a Chicken Casserole and I made Pumpkin Curry. For dessert, Sheelagh served a lorry load of fruit which I balanced out with some Choc Chip Muffins and Borrowdale Tea Bread.

It turns out that whatever language you speak, a smorgasboard of food says “Welcome.”

Refugee Centre

For many of these people, the centre, and in particular, the daily lunches are a real refuge, it’s a place where they can come to sit down and relax, feel safe and enjoy a good meal,  another thing we  get to do (and take for granted)  every day.

Lunch at the centre is a shared and unique experience. There were empty plates, smiles and even a thank you poem.

Refugee Centre poem

My Pumpkin Curry pot was pretty much scraped clean and one of the clients told me that it was the best Pumpkin Curry he’d ever eaten, better even than his own, and coming from the Punjab, he’s a self confessed curry connoisseur!

An Indian lady also sought me out when she learned I cooked the curry (actually the Thermomix did, but I’m happy to take the credit) she took my hands, looked at them, and told me I have “special hands” if I can make a curry like that. I make curry as good as an Indian person apparently – her words not mine!

It seems the curry was a hit not just with the clients, but the “Pattie”s too, Nicky, Sheelagh and Jeannie (you know like Ex-Pats = Pattites) – everyone was begging me for the recipe. So seeing as we’ve shared lunch, shared the love, now let’s share the recipe and let’s all pumpkin curry like a boss!

In the meantime, click here to find out how you can get involved at the  Asylum Seekers Resource Centre. Because together we can make a difference.

Thermomix Pumpkin Curry

Thermomix Pumpkin Curry

Serves 2 as a main dish / 4-6 as a side dish

This curry is adapted from the Thermomix Fast and Easy Indian Cookbook and  it tickles all the tastebuds. The level of spicey is nicey and the sweetness of the pumpkin really balances out the heat of the chilli. It’s super quick to make, really delicious to eat and freezes brilliantly. 


25g olive oil

1/2 teaspoon onion seeds (Nigella or Kalonji)

2 small red chillies (or 1 large one halved)

300g onion, peeled and quartered

450g pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 1cm chunks

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri (mild) chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Rice or rotis to serve

How to: Thermomix

1. Heat oil for 3 minutes on Varoma Temperature, speed soft.

2.  Add the onion seeds and chillies straight away. Heat again for 1 minute on Varoma Temperature, speed soft. 

3.  Add onion and chop for 5 seconds on  speed 4 1/2.

4. Scrape down lid and sides and saute for 10 minutes  on Varoma Temperature speed soft with the MC off.

5. Add the pumpkin, turmeric, chilli and salt  and cook for 5 minutes on Varoma Temperature on reverse speed soft.

6. Cook for a further 10 minutes on 100C on reverse speed soft with the measuring cup off.

5.  Serve with some steamed rice or rotis and natural yoghurt on the side.



  • merilyn

    you and your pattie’s are good seeds sam!
    your curry must have rocked with such compliment!
    how lovely for all! …
    enjoy your day hun! love m:)x

    • I know it’s good because David and his discerning tastebuds love it! But I was pretty stoked when the curry connoisseurs gave it the thumbs up! I hope the clients enjoyed eating the food as much as we enjoyed sharing it!

  • What a fabulous experience!Just running down to the shop to pick up some pumpkin!!

  • That must have been a mighty pumpkin curry! I bet the clients appreciated good hearty homecooked food too. Good work by you and your mates!

    • The curry is pretty epic – it was a great day and I can’t wait to do it all again. I wonder what I’ll cook next time…

  • Love this recipe and love this centre. Recently my eldest (as part of a special ceremony he has just enjoyed) and a friend of his took part in some of the work this organisation does. They got more out of the experience than they felt they gave and as 13 year old boys it is standing them in good stead to understand that time given freely to help others,comes back tenfold in a sense of wellbeing. They have encouraged their friends to get involved in the school holidays. You Sammie are a special person…kisses to you. x

    • What a wonderful opportunity for your son – I think you’re exactly right, helping others does came back in a sense of wellbeing – I feel very privileged to be part of it! I was just thinking about the special ceremony today! I can’t wait to hear all about it!

  • What an amazing experience. And what horrendous statistics. Mind blowing. You made someone’s day and I bet by sharing the food you all made with love, it made your day too. Good job Patties.

    • It was such a wonderful experience, it makes you think that really it is the little things that means so much. It totally made my day – if I ever win the lottery, I would never work again but I’d volunteer instead. It’s so much more fulfilling and it’s so rewarding to know that you’re really making a difference, however small.

  • Sam what a wonderful thing to do and thank you for opening my eyes to what they go through. I must try that pumpkin curry as that feedback is amazing! x

    • I was very pleasantly surprised by the feedback – at least I know what to take next time. The centre is such an important resource and does such good work – such an privilege to be part of it, even in a small way.

  • You are my food sister women.
    Lover of dumplings, donuts and curry.
    women after my own heart!
    and a heart of gold too, the power of love through food is eternal in any language. If only everything and one seen life this way, our world would be a better place all together. xx

    • Can you imagine a dumplings, donuts and curry buffet? Wouldn’t that be grand? I love that food speaks any language and always says welcome and sharing really is caring. I think we can all do our bit, however small, to make the world a better place, don’t you? x

  • What a lovely story behind this recipe, Sammie! And what fantastic work you are doing. I love how rewarding volunteering is. The last couple of years I’ve been working with refugee families here in Brisbane doing English language tutoring, so I can relate to how you felt about the experience!

    • Oh how awesome Lisa! I’m an English language teacher and would love to do some tutoring at the centre down the track – high five to you!