The long days and warm nights of summer always seem to drift away too quickly for my liking. But happily, fall's vibrant foliage, crisp air and long cozy nights come to the rescue before we have a chance to miss summer too much. While I love summer dearly, my tastebuds definitely crave the richness and comfort of the foods during fall the most.
Among the ubiquitous "pumpkin-spice" e v e r y t h i n g, the versatile butternut squash shouldn't be forgotten! I've used this delicious squash in soups, in Thanksgiving stuffing and in the past few years I have made a tasty and simple Indian version in the Kadhai or Cheena Chatti. The sweetness of the butternut squash is slowly drawn out by the even caramelization you get from the thick cast iron Khadai. This well-known technique of cooking Indian vegetables is one that I've grown up watching my mother use and one I see used in the expert hands of my mother-in-law as well. The natural sweetness of the squash pairs beautifully with the mild heat of the indian spices and transforms this simple vegetable into something wonderfully complex with full depth of flavor.
Here's the recipe for Khadai Butternut Squash. (Which happens to be vegan!) I hope you have a chance to cozy up and enjoy it!
Roasted Butternut Squash in Indian Spices
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced. (lucky for me my local supermarket has taken the work out of it for me with prepackaged peeled and diced butternut squash) :)
oil 3-4 Tablespoons
1 small onion dices
1/4 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
chili powder to taste
salt to taste
amchur or dried mango powder to taste
water as needed
1. Warm up oil in a cast iron pan
2. Add 1/4 teaspoon each of mustard seeds and cumin seeds and heat until the mustard seeds begin to sputter or pop
3. Add diced onions and sauté until translucent and slightly browned.
4. Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic and sauté for 1 minute taking care to not burn the garlic
5. Add the spices - 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, chili powder (to taste), salt ( to taste)
6. Add the peeled and diced butternut squash
7. Toss the squash until evenly coated with spices
8. Reduce the flame to low-medium and cover for 10-12 minutes checking once in between to make sure squash isn't burning. (If so add a tad bit more oil and sprinkle with water and then cover again)
9. Once the squash is soft reduce the flame to low and cook another 10 minutes allowing squash to slightly caramelize.
10. sprinkle a dash of amchur at the very end and toss gently
11. garnish with cilantro
Warm, spicy, mildly tangy, salty, with a sweet caramelized crunch right at the end.
Pairs perfectly with plain steamed white rice or chapati. Delish!