Savoury Sweet Pumpkin Fry (Labu Masak Cili)


Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

Savoury Sweet Pumpkin Fry is super easy to make. I find that this is best cooked with a sweet pumpkin species or butternut squash. It can be served with rice or roti, but goes superbly well with chapati! This recipe has dried prawns but is OPTIONAL if making vegetarian/vegan version.

Savoury sweet pumpkin fry

I have tried a number of pumpkin dishes this season, from sweet to savoury. It has come to my conclusion that apart from a spiced pumpkin soup or seasoned roasted pumpkin wedges for snacks, nothing beats good old simple savoury dishes. I find this super easy and fast Savoury Sweet Pumpkin Fry to be the best for me. All season I have made pumpkin cheesecakes, muffins and pies, even a pumpkin loaf. Seriously, I do not know what the hype is all about with the sweet dishes. Maybe I am getting too old or maybe I am just 100% Malaysian at heart with spicy tastebuds. 


Many years ago, one of my relatives served this simple savoury dish with chapati. The memory of it came to me last month and ever since then it became an obsession and craving. I just had to have it, so I asked Yazreena for her mum’s recipe. It is now my favourite pumpkin dish and it’s the simplest of them all. I really like ‘Labu masak cili’ (translated as ‘pumpkin cooked with chilli’). Making this dish is simple and fast. After having it for dinner and leftovers for breakfast, I still want more. I simply can’t get enough of it just yet!


Sweet Pumpkin or Butternut Squash, Shallots, Garlic, Chillies and scallions for garnish. The recipe calls for a little ground dried prawns for flavour too. It’s a Malaysian thing and it does give an amazing flavour, though I know it is an acquired taste for many people. You may wish to omit the dried prawns, but I feel it then loses it’s authentic flavour.


Although I prefer savoury dishes, I am unable to handle the cili padi part of it (birds eye chillies). The level of spicy is really a personal thing, so I just tweaked the chilli part in the recipe, to suit my taste. Instead of bird’s eye chillies, I added a little chilli powder, smoked paprika, and 2 deseeded red chillies for it’s flavour. Deeeelicious! Another minor unintentional tweak was that I added in 1 roasted sweet potato as well. I had this extra sweet potato from the day before which I had roasted for snacks but never got round to eating! It added an extra sweetness to the savoury dish and I have to admit, it was really good. My husband loved it so much that he had a second helping but with Rice instead of Chapati.


First peel and cut pumpkin into cubes and set aside. You may season and oil it to roast beforehand if you wish. I did this the first time round so I did not have to boil it after adding to the other ingredients. The second attemp was the way of the original recipe and I find that both ways turned out the same. Slice Shallots and garlic. Wash and pound the dried prawns. Chop/slice chillies and scallions. I deseeded the chillies. Season as to your personal taste. I added a little hot chillie powder and smoked paprika. (Scroll down for the detailed recipe and print version)

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a pan/pot and fry the shallots till limp but not browned. Add the rest of ingredients and fry till the aroma comes out. Add the pumpkin cubes and 1-11/2 cups water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cover to simmer till pumpkin is cooked and soft. Add more water a little by little if it dries up before pumpkin is cooked. Cook it till all water dries up unless you wish for a little gravy if serving it with Rice. Add in a bunch of chopped scallions the last 2 minutes of cooking and reserve some for garnish. Best served with Chapati.

Savoury Sweet Pumpkin Fry
Savoury sweet pumpkin fry

Savoury Sweet Pumpkin Fry

This Savoury dish is super easy to make. It is best cooked with sweet pumpkin or butternut squash. It can be served with rice or roti, but goes superbly well with chapati!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Asian, Malaysian
Servings 4


  • 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil I used rapeseed oil
  • 500 grams sweet pumpkin or butternut squash I used 1 very small butternut squash and 1 sweet potato
  • 1-1.5 cup water
  • 8 shallots sliced
  • 3-6 cloves garlic I used 6
  • 1-2 tablespoons Dried prawns optional – wash and pound/grind
  • 2 Bird's Eye Chillies or Red Chillies. I used 2 deseeded red chillies. Add/change to suit your taste.
  • 1 bunch scallions chopped
  • 2 teaspoons hot chili powder optional and use to suit personal taste
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika powder optional and use to suit personal taste
  • Salt to taste


  • Heat oil in pan/wok/pot
  • Fry shallots till limp but not brown.
  • Add in garlic, dried prawns, chillies, chilli powder and smoked paprika. Fry till browned.
  • Add in the pumpkin cubes and water. Lower heat to low and cover. Let it cook on low heat till pumpkin is cooked, checking and stirring occasionally. Add more water a little by little if it dries up before pumpkin is cooked.
  • Add a bunch of chopped scallions during the last few minutes of cooking and reserve some for garnish. Cook pumpkin is soft. Most of the water will evaporate, making this a dry fry.
  • Season with salt to taste. Garnish and Serve hot.
  • Best served with Chapati.


  1. Add or lessen chillies to suit your taste.
  2. Dried prawns may be ommited due to allergies or for a vegan dish, but then it will lose it’s authentic flavour. 
  3. Most of the water will evaporate, making this a dry fry.
Keyword Butternut Squash, Malaysian, Pumpkin, Pumpkin Fry, Savoury, Savoury Sweet, vegan, vegetarian
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was with a Rating or Comment!

If you have tried this recipe, do let me know how it turned out! Tag @sweetsharings on instagram and mention #sweetsharings in a hashtag.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total time: 30 minutes
  • Serves: 4


  • Aisyah Y.

    December 14, 2021 at 3:31 pm

    5 stars
    Wow looks good! Cant wait to try ?

  • Kats

    December 21, 2021 at 4:05 am

    5 stars
    Wow…definitely going to try it out.

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