Kid-friendly Sri Lankan Pumpkin Chickpea Curry in a Mug Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Sri Lankan Pumpkin Chickpea Curry in a Mug

Recipe: Sri Lankan Pumpkin Chickpea Curry in a Mug

Sri Lankan Pumpkin Chickpea Curry in a Mug

by Erin Fletter
Photo by malinkaphoto/
prep time
10 minutes
cook time
2 minutes
1-2 servings

Fun Food Story

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Sri Lankan Pumpkin Chickpea Curry in a Mug

Like pasta, curries are incredibly adaptable and have strayed far from the original, traditional recipe, which usually indicates how much the original dish was loved. Historically, when travelers and colonizers have attempted to recreate some dish they encountered on their journey, the result is always adapted and changed in some significant way back home. Ingredients are different, traditional methods are unknown, and secrets are not shared. This is the magic of traveling to a place and tasting the real thing! It’s also the magic of getting a glimpse into the culture and place by cooking up flavors and dishes as close as possible to the original. Though this curry is not necessarily authentic, it is fast, satisfying, and encompasses flavor profiles used in Sri Lankan (Shree Lawn-kahn) curries, like vinegar and cinnamon. There are many more facts to know about this beautiful island country. We hope you adore this recipe as much as we do.

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • microwave :

    to heat or cook food or liquid quickly in a microwave oven, which uses high-frequency electromagnetic waves to generate heat in the food's water molecules.

  • mix :

    to thoroughly combine two or more ingredients until uniform in texture.

  • season :

    to add flavor to food with spices, herbs, and salt.

  • snip :

    to use scissors to cut something with quick, sharp strokes.

Equipment Checklist

  • Microwave
  • Microwave safe mug
  • Potholder
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Kid-friendly scissors
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Citrus juicer (optional)
  • Paper towel
  • Metal spoon for stirring
  • Fork
  • Soap for cleaning hands


Sri Lankan Pumpkin Chickpea Curry in a Mug

  • 1/2 celery stalk
  • 1 green onion
  • 1/4 heaping C chickpeas/garbanzo beans from 1 15-oz can **(for PEANUT/LEGUME ALLERGY sub corn)**
  • mild yellow curry powder (up to 1/4 tsp—let kids decide how much)
  • mild chili powder (up to 1/4 tsp—let kids decide how much)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 C canned pumpkin purée from 1 15-oz can
  • 1 pinch pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 fresh orange
  • 1/4 C canned coconut cream (use pure coconut cream or scrape the top from a can of full-fat coconut milk) **(for COCONUT ALLERGY sub heavy whipping cream or soy milk)**
  • 1/4 C precooked white or brown rice

Food Allergen Substitutions

Sri Lankan Pumpkin Chickpea Curry in a Mug

  • Peanut/Legume: Substitute corn for chickpeas.
  • Coconut: Substitute heavy whipping cream or soy milk for coconut cream/milk.


Sri Lankan Pumpkin Chickpea Curry in a Mug

chop + snip

Chop 1/2 celery stalk into small bits. Using a clean pair of kid-safe scissors, snip 1 green onion into small pieces.

add + season + mix

Add the celery, green onion, and a heaping 1/4 cup chickpeas to a microwavable mug (or mugs). Add up to 1/4 teaspoon mild yellow curry powder and up to 1/4 teaspoon mild chili powder (use less for mild spice level). Add 1 pinch of sugar, 1 pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon tomato paste, 1/4 cup canned pumpkin purée, 1 pinch of pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 squeeze of orange juice from 1/2 orange to the mug(s). Top with 1/4 cup coconut cream (use the cream from the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk, or use pure canned coconut cream). Mix!

cover + microwave + stir

Cover the mug with a damp paper towel and microwave for 1 minute. Let cool slightly before removing from the microwave with a potholder and stirring.

add + microwave + stir

Add 1/4 cup of precooked rice to your microwavable mug(s). No need to stir. Just add the rice on top of the curry. Microwave for 1 more minute. Let cool slightly before removing from the microwave with a potholder and stirring once more.

Surprise Ingredient: Pumpkin!

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Photo by Irina Wilhauk/

Hi! I’m Pumpkin!

"I'm orange, round, like to sit on your porch making faces in the Fall, and I'm good to eat! I'm a pumpkin! Of course, not all pumpkins are orange. We can be white, red, yellow, tan, blue, dark green, and even black! We're not always round, either! We might be tall and oblong or short and squat. We love it when families come to the pumpkin patch to pick out their favorite pumpkin to take home!"


  • The pumpkin is a winter squash that is believed to have originated in Central America. Seeds from pumpkins were found in the highlands of Oaxaca, Mexico, dating back to 7000 to 5500 BCE, about 9,000 years ago! 
  • Now, pumpkins are grown on six continents. The only continent that can't grow pumpkins is Antarctica!
  • Native Americans were eating pumpkins for centuries before European colonists arrived. They ate pumpkin seeds, used them as medicine, and made mats from flattened and dried strips of pumpkins.
  • Archaeologists have found pumpkin residue among the 800-year-old ruins of the Ancestral Pueblo people. 
  • A pumpkin is not the same as a Jack-o-Lantern. A pumpkin is only a Jack-o-Lantern once it's carved! Carving pumpkins into Jack-o-Lanterns is a tradition that started hundreds of years ago in Ireland. The Irish used to carve turnips, but when Irish immigrants arrived in North America and found pumpkins aplenty, they began to use those instead. 
  • Pumpkins were once endorsed as a remedy for freckles and snake bites. As if we need a cure for freckles!
  • According to Guinness World Records, Stefano Cutrupi of Italy harvested the heaviest pumpkin on September 26, 2021. His humongous pumpkin weighed over 2,702 pounds.

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Why are pumpkins orange? Before a pumpkin matures, it's green in color due to the presence of chlorophyll, a green-pigmented nutrient required for the pumpkin to absorb and use sunlight for energy and food. However, as a pumpkin matures, it develops phytonutrients called "carotenoids," which give a pumpkin its bright orange color. 
  • The stem of a pumpkin is often referred to as its "handle."
  • Thin, hairlike "tendrils" are often attached to the pumpkin's stem. As it grows, the pumpkin's tendrils cling to the vine and are green in color. These tendrils attach to and wind themselves around fences, posts, other plants, and objects on the ground to anchor the vine and protect the plant from the wind. 
  • Leaves grow on the pumpkin's vine and absorb sunlight to provide energy for the plant and its fruit.
  • We collectively refer to the pumpkin's outer skin and inner fruit as the pumpkin's "shell." Ribs are the indentations around the outside of the pumpkin's shell. 
  • The meat of the pumpkin is called the "pulp," or sometimes affectionately referred to as "pumpkin brains!" Attached to the pulp are lots of pumpkin seeds that can be cleaned, dried, and roasted with salt (delicious!). The inner part of each pumpkin seed contains a nut (technically, the "germ" of the seed), and this is what eventually develops into a new pumpkin. 
  • The word "pumpkin" originated from the Greek word for "large melon," which is "pepon." The French called it "pompon." The English used "pumpion." And, American colonists changed "pumpion" into "pumpkin."  

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • A pumpkin is used as a vegetable in cooking, but it's actually a fruit! It's a member of the Cucurbita family, which includes squash and cucumbers. 
  • Pumpkin flowers and seeds are edible.
  • Undoubtedly the most popular recipe that uses pumpkins is pumpkin pie. But pumpkin pulp can be used for everything from baked goods to soups to ice cream, pudding, and even beer!
  • You can store uncut pumpkins for up to 60 days in a cool, dark place!


  • Pumpkins contain potassium, vitamin C, soluble fiber, and beta carotene. 
  • Vitamin C and beta carotene are two powerful antioxidants that help protect cell membranes and the immune system. 
  • Potassium is good for circulation and healthy blood pressure, and it's great for bones. It also helps take blood pumped from hearts through arteries and veins to muscles and organs.
  • Beta carotene is great for the health of our eyes! The body takes beta carotene and converts it to vitamin A, which our eyes need to stay healthy. When this happens, it signals the immune system to create white blood cells, which help the body fight off infection. 
  • Soluble fiber is so good for our digestive systems! Fiber also helps slow the absorption of blood sugar into our tissues.


History of Curry!

Photo by nelea33/
  • Curry can refer to an assortment of dishes that originated in India, and it can also refer to curry powder, a spice blend. However, curries use a complex variety and combination of spices and herbs, vegetables, meat, chicken, or fish!
  • Depending on the country and region, curries will taste very different. In Thailand, for example, curries incorporate coconut milk. In India, turmeric is a common ingredient in curry, turning it into a beautiful yellow color. Sri Lankan curries often include vinegar and cinnamon. 
  • The history of curry powder goes back a long way. There is evidence of it being used in Mesopotamia in 1700 BCE. While the use of curry probably originated in India, it was used in England as early as the 1300s and probably even earlier. Mention of its use can be found in the first book on English cooking, written during the time of Richard II (the late 1300s).
  • Curry powder can be a mild or hot blend of spices. This golden-colored spice is one of the oldest spice mixes and is most often associated with Indian cuisine.

Let's Learn About Sri Lanka!

Photo by (tea pickers)

Sri Lanka (Shree Lawn-ka) is a South Asian island country located just south of India in the Indian Ocean. Officially it is the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and before becoming a republic in 1972, it was known as Ceylon (sih-Lahn).

Its nicknames are "Pearl of the Ocean" and "Teardrop of India" for its shape and location off the southeastern tip of India. 

Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, or just Kotte, is the legislative capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is the executive and judicial capital and the largest city. The government is a unitary semi-presidential republic with a president, prime minister, and parliament.

Sri Lanka's total area is 25,332.2 square miles, a little larger than the US state of West Virginia, and its population is over 22 million. 

The majority of people are Sinhalese, and Sinhala is one of the country's official languages. The other is Tamil, and Sri Lankan Tamils are the largest minority group on the island. English is a recognized language.

Other ethnic groups include Sri Lankan Moors, Indian Tamils, and Burghers, who are of European (including Dutch, Portuguese, or British) and Sri Lankan descent.

Sri Lanka has 103 rivers and over 50 waterfalls! It has slightly more than 17,000 acres of mangroves, trees that can grow in salt water and help protect coasts from extreme weather and tsunamis.

Mountains and deep valleys are found in the Central Highlands in the south-central part of the country, and plains with rolling hills and rocky flats extend out to the coasts. The tallest mountain is Pidurutalagala (Mount Pedro), at 8,281 feet.

The Central Highlands is a World Heritage Site consisting of protected rainforests. Sri Lanka also has almost 1,000 miles of coastline, beautiful, pristine beaches, incredible wildlife (including elephants, leopards, sloth bears, monkeys, and many kinds of birds), and ancient ruins.

Due to the ocean winds, the weather is tropical and warm, although the Central Highlands can experience frost in the winter. Rainfall can vary, with areas facing the monsoon winds (windward) getting more rain and areas sheltered from the wind (leeward) getting less rain.

Sri Lanka is famous for its tea plantations, gardens, and Ceylon tea. It is the second-largest tea producer worldwide.

Cinnamon originally came from Sri Lanka, and Ceylon Cinnamon is known as the "true cinnamon." This is why cinnamon is commonly found in Sri Lankan curries. Rice and curry are a big part of Sri Lankan cuisine. 

In addition to many types of curries, Sri Lankan cuisine includes "lamprais," from the Dutch Burghers, made of rice boiled in stock and wrapped in a banana leaf with other ingredients. 

For breakfast, they may eat "puttu," logs of steamed rice flour, grated coconut, salt, and water, served with sweet or savory fillings, and "kiribath" or milk rice, made of cooked rice and coconut milk and cut into wedges. "Kiribath" is also served on holidays and is often paired with the condiment "lunu miris," a paste made of chili and onions.

Sri Lankans may also eat the pulp of a hard-shelled fruit called a "wood-apple," which is often made into a drink with sugar and coconut milk.  

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Sri Lanka?

Kids start school in grade 1 at age 5. They wear school uniforms. Their school year goes from January through December, with three terms and two-week breaks between them.

Kids may play cricket, volleyball, football (soccer), or a game similar to softball called "elle."

Families can visit one of the many beaches along the coast. Kids might enjoy seeing turtles at Turtle Beach or turtle hatcheries and sanctuaries. At Yala National Park, you can see wildlife, like elephants, leopards, and sloth bears in their natural habitat on a safari tour.

Kids may have "appam" (or "hoppers") for breakfast or a snack. These are thin, bowl-shaped pancakes made of fermented rice batter and coconut milk. They can eat them with a sweet filling called "kiri peni" (buffalo milk curd and "kithul" palm syrup) or a savory filling of eggs, curry, or vegetables.   

Popular sweets include "watalappan," a coconut custard pudding, and "kiri aluwa" (or "milk toffee"), a confection similar to fudge made with condensed milk, sugar, cardamom, and cashews or peanuts.

The Yolk's On You

How do you encourage a condiment to win a race? 

Yell "Curry, ketchup!" ("Hurry, catch up!")

That's Berry Funny

What did the turmeric say to the cumin? 

"Curry up...we're late!"

That's Berry Funny

What is a mother hen’s favorite plant in the garden? 

The Chickpea!

The Yolk's On You

Why did the rooster blush? 

Because it saw a chickpea!

That's Berry Funny

What do you get when you mix curry and porridge? 


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