Tangy Squash with Malvani Masala


The end of the growing season is basically squash season at our CSA, the excellent Open Hands farm. And so October and November usually find me cooking squash in all kinds of ways—from soups to pork combos to grated preparations. One of my favourite squashes is Ambercup; both because it is very tasty and because it does not need to be peeled (I am a very lazy cook). Open Hands usually has a lot of Ambercup in their shares but this year was an exception. While waiting for it to come in I took a flyer on a variety I had never seen or cooked with before: Starry Night. This is a variant of Acorn squash and does not give off much moisture when cooked, making it particularly suitable for dry preparations. It’s a bit fussy to peel, on account of the ridges, but the dish I improvised with it came out rather well: a tangy and slightly spicy preparation that deploys one of my new favourite commercial spice mixes, Bedekar’s Malvani masala. This masala has been available at my favourite desi store in the Twin Cities metro throughout the year but if you don’t see it—or another brand of Malvani masala—in a store near you, you can find it online.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb peeled and cubed squash
  • 3-5 dried red chillies
  • 1 tspn zeera/cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tspn hing/asafoetida
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 tspn freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
  • 1 tspn Deggi mirch [affiliate link]
  • 1 tspn Bedekar’s Malvani Masala
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-4 tblspns neutral oil of choice

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a karhai or wok and when it shimmers add the dried red chillies, the zeera and the hing.
  2. As soon as the chillies darken and the zeera splits add the chopped onions and saute, stirring often, till beginning to brown (7-10 minutes).
  3. Add the grated ginger, mix in and saute till the raw aroma is gone.
  4. Add the haldi and Deggi mirch/red chilli powder, mix in and saute for another minute or so.
  5. Add the Malvani masala, mix in and saute for another minute or so.
  6. Add the cubed squash and the salt, mix in thoroughly and saute, stirring often, till the squash begins to darken and shrink.
  7. Cover the pan, lower the heat to medium-low and cook till the squash is cooked through and just holding its shape. Uncover the pan every 5-7 minutes or so to stir and make sure nothing is scorching at the bottom.
  8. Serve with dal and rice or chapatis.

Notes

  1. The goal here is to get the onions and the squash caramelized without burning them. If you’re using a more moist squash, such as butternut, you’ll have difficulty getting to this point without the squash going soft. It’ll still taste pretty good though. Kabocha or even Delicata (which also does not need to be peeled) would work well here as would Acorn.
  2. As you can see in the picture, the onions should brown considerably before the squash is done. If they’re in danger of scorching the very first time you uncover the pan, it may be that you have the heat too high. Reduce it. If you’re nervous, you can start out with adding 1/4 cup of water before covering the pan. But it should be completely dry at the end.
  3. You can make this hotter if you like by using a hot chilli powder in place of the Deggi mirch.
  4. You can also add a tspn of jaggery or brown sugar along with the squash if you want to make it sweeter.
  5. Yes, there’s a Reel of it being made. If you’d follow me on Instagram you wouldn’t need me to keep telling you this.

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