I got a delicata squash in my CSA box a few days before I went out of town.  I didn’t have enough time to cook it so I quickly peeled it, cubed it and threw it in the freezer hoping that delicata squash freezes ok.  Good news, it does!

The texture and color had changed a bit. It was softer, almost felt par boiled, and the colors were brighter.  Both of these things worked for a curry.

I had come across this recipe for Spicy Squash and it sounded delicious so I decided to pull out my frozen squash and give it a go.  I was bringing food to a vegan potluck so I was glad that this recipe was already vegan.  That’s another thing I’ve noticed about Indian cooking.  It is all very vegan friendly.  I have made a couple full vegan Indian dinners for people who were not vegan or even vegetarian, and they loved it.  This original recipe is already vegan but some of the other ones I’ve come across use ghee (clarified butter) which is easily substituted for veggie oil.

India is a big country with very diverse cultures and cuisines. This dish uses a couple different methods than some of the other curries I’ve made such as making this spice paste.

Just a quarter cup of water later and voila! We have spice paste. This gets fried in tempered oil so in my mind this is still a slight variation on a theme.

A lot of people freak out at the length of ingredient lists and Indian cooking usually has a long ass ingredient list.  However, the majority of the things on the list are spices.  To me, that makes way less daunting.  It’s just a matter of pulling a teaspoon here and a tablespoon there from my spice jars.  There usually isn’t any extra shopping or worrying about getting extra ingredients.  That is, of course, if you have a well stocked spice rack and I do.

I always have mustard and cumin seeds in my spice rack. I am the proud owner of a spice mill which was a coffee grinder in a former life. This means that I can grind the seeds into powder in the amounts I need or just use the seeds if that’s what the recipe calls for. This helps save precious pantry space and also comes in handy for cooking Indian food!

Fenugreek is not a very common spice and is the kind of thing you’d probably have to go to a specialty store for. It is used in Persian cooking too so it’s something I usually have on hand. And those chilis have been in my pantry for YEARS and are finally getting put to really good use.

 

Once you get past the shock of the number of ingredients in this dish, it’s actually very very simple and takes very little time.  There aren’t a ton of veggies and herbs to chop and prep.  There isn’t anything to sear or dredge.  It’s just mixing some spices, tempering some oil, frying spice paste and then adding the veggies.  And if you already have the veggies prepped, this is a super quick meal.

I’ve never tempered so much oil in my life before this.

After the spice paste has fried up, you add the squash and then cover it and let it do it’s thing. This is such and easy meal to prepare.  I’m not a huge fan of rice but I cannot get enough of it with these curries.  I have gone through a record breaking (for me) amount of rice in the past few weeks.  Rice is generally something that hangs out in my pantry until I get a craving for Persian or Asian food but now that I’ve been cooking Indian food I can’t get enough of it.  It’s the perfect accompaniment to the spicy, savory and hearty flavors of the curries.  It’s also a great vehicle to sop up all those yummy juices.

This recipe came from a blog called Manjula’s Kitchen.  Manjula was born and raised in India and immigrated to the US in the late 1960s and has great videos that show you how to make the dishes if that’s easier for you.  I made quite a few modifications to her recipe but since she is also an advocate of experimenting in the kitchen and having fun with it, I’m sure she won’t mind 🙂

Delightful Recipe

Serves 4-6
Adapted from Manjula's Kitchen

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 – 4 cups cubed winter squash (butternut, delicata, acorn, kabocha)
  • 1 Tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 Tablespoon fennel powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Tablespoons veggie/grape seed/sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 3 whole red chilis
  • In a small bowl, mix the grated ginger, coriander powder, fennel powder, red chili powder, paprika, turmeric, and 1/4 cup of water so that it turns into a thin paste.
  • In a large skillet or frying pan with a lid, heat the oil, cumin seeds and mustard seeds until the mustard seeds start to pop.  Then add the asafoetida, fenugreek seeds, and whole red chilis.  Fry for a minute or so until fragrant but be careful not to let the seeds burn.
  • CAREFULLY add the spice paste to the oil and let it fry until the paste starts to pull away from the oil.  It will sort of start to clump together.  You’ll see.
  • Add the squash cubes and a couple tablespoons of water and then cover it with a lid over medium heat.  Your squash should release liquid which will create a yummy, spicy sauce.  Lift the lid occasionally to make sure nothing is burning.  Add water if you need to.
  • Serve with rice, lemon pickle and yogurt.

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