Ginataang Kalabasa at Malunggay Recipe (Squash and Moringa Oleifera in Coconut Milk)

When I posted my Ginataang Kalabasa and Sitaw Recipe a few months ago, I barely knew what I was doing. That was the first time I cooked a vegetable recipe rich in coconut milk. I searched the recipe online to  help me cook the dish. However, today, I got to try cooking Ginataang Kalabasa at Malunggay as I followed my mom’s instructions. And I was in for a great surprise!

You see, my mom hails from the province where I can say that “gata” or coconut milk can be considered as a spice. Yep! Just like spices, you can find coconut milk in any dish they serve. I guess being a Bicolana gives her authority in cooking anything that’s got to do with coconut milk.

So when she gave me instructions on how to cook the Ginataang Kalabasa at Malunggay (Squash and Moringa Oleifera in Coconut Milk), I kinda got lost with the instructions she gave me. Don’t get me wrong for the instructions were so simple and I didn’t have to saute anything! Anyway, here it is…

Extracting the Coconut Milk

It would be wise to use fresh coconut milk and not those sold in cans for best results. Please refer to the instructions on how to extract coconut milk or gata here. However, you have to remember this process carefully. Separate the first pure extract (gata) in a bowl. Once you are done doing that, extract the juice from the coconut milk again and place it in another bowl. So in total, you will have 2 bowls of coconut milk: the 1st pure one and the 2nd extract.

Preparing the Ingredients for the Ginataang Kalabasa at Malunggay Recipe

In order to cook this recipe, you will need squash, malunggay, ginger, garlic, onion and salt.

Peel off 1/4 to 1/2 of the squash you have or depending on how many you’ll cook. Once done, start cutting them the same way as shown in this photo. Get a small sized ginger, peel it and slice it. Just make sure it’s just small, ok?

You have to remove the leaves of malunggay from its branches. I can’t estimate how many you’ll need for this one. I guess 10 small branches will do. The leaves should be enough to fill a small strainer bowl. Or depending on how many you want to use.

Crush 2 cloves of garlic and then peel and slice 1 onion like the way you saute one.

How to Cook the Ginataang Kalabasa at Malunggay Recipe

And now that we have completed preparing the ingredients, we are ready to cook!

  1. Get a pan and heat it.
  2. Pour the 1st coconut milk extract in the pan.
  3. Add the ginger.
  4. Let it simmer till the gata gets reduced (tama ba ang term? 😆 ).
  5. Be sure to continuously mix the coconut milk extract using a laddle to avoid burning the gata and producing coconut oil. You will see that the gata thickens at this point. (Haluin ng mabuti ang gata gamit ang sandok para di lumabas ang oil at di masunog)
  6. When the extract has almost evaporated 😆 leaving it half empty 😆 (sorry for the description. nosebleed mag english! what i meant was, if kalahati na lang ang gata or konti na ang gata) drop the squash or kalabasa.
  7. Add the garlic and onion.
  8. Cook it in the coconut extract for around 2 minutes using low heat.
  9. Add the 2nd coconut milk extract or gata.
  10. Add salt to taste.
  11. Let it simmer till the squash or kalabasa gets cooked.
  12. Add the malunggay and let it cook for 2 more minutes.
You will end up cooking something like the photo below once you are done cooking your ginataang kalabasa at malunggay.

Ginataang Kalabasa at Malunggay
Ginataang Kalabasa at Malunggay

Sorry for not having pictures of what I cooked since I forgot to take one. It’s hard to take photos of dishes you cook when you have a limited time to cook one. hehehe.

Anyway, I think my dad mentioned that style of cooking is termed as “Pinakul-aw” or “Pinakulaw” in Bicol lingo. I  guess it’s the term used when you cook food in gata.

This recipe is best served with left-over fried fish. Since we didn’t have one earlier, we didn’t have the chance to add that to our dish. What surprised me with this dish was the fact that I didn’t have to saute the spices before cooking everything. When I cooked the Ginataang Kalabasa at Sitaw in Siem Reap, I had to saute the spices but my mom corrected me that it will be too much for the dish if one sautes it. I guess I just had to believe what my mom says as she knows best when dealing with dishes like this one. 😉

That lunchtime, we had the Ginataang Kalabasa at Malunggay and Adobong Pata. My father went out that morning and never saw who cooked the dishes. He made a side comment and said “Mukhang hindi si Dodoy ang nagluto nitong Pinakul-aw ah” (looked like it was not me who cooked the dish). He teasingly said that since he was convinced my mom started cooking again after recovering from her sickness. He thought that with how the dish was cooked, my mother would be the only person who can come up with such yummy food. But my mom had to correct him and said that I cooked it and of course, following her detailed instructions.

So there you have it. The Ginataang Kalabasa and Malunggay Recipe is one healthy and delicious treat for you vegetarians out there. It’s so easy to cook and you don’t even have to use oil, which makes it more healthy!

P.S. When I get the chance to cook the Ginataang Kalabasa at Malunggay recipe again, I’ll definitely take a photo of it so that I won’t have to borrow one online. ehehehe

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