Here’s presenting to you Parangikkai Poriyal, curry made Tamilnadu style using butternut squash.
It is not often that I come across butternut squash in a vegetable shop, here in Bangalore. When I do find it, I make sure I grab it. 🙂 That’s just what I did when I recently found a row of butternut squash sitting pretty on the shelves at Namdhari’s Fresh – I brought one home.
Say hello to the butternut squash!
For the uninitiated, butternut squash is a type of pumpkin with red flesh, not unlike the parangikkai that is commonly available in Tamilnadu. With a shape like an hourglass and tough outer skin, the butternut squash is a winter-special vegetable. I find it easier to peel, chop and cook with than parangikkai, and the flesh is a bit more sweet too.
Butternut squash is, perhaps, the best known of all fall produce. There are numerous dishes made using the veggie in the UK and the USA, including soups, curry and baked goodies. It is also often eaten grilled. I, however, used it to make a very Tamilian poriyal. I made it the same way we make Parangikkai Poriyal, but using butternut squash, and it turned out finger-lickingly delicious.
How to peel and chop butternut squash
Considering its hard exterior, peeling and chopping butternut squash might seem like a daunting task. However, there is no need to feel intimidated. Like I was saying earlier, butternut squash is more easy to work with than the regular red pumpkin. All you need is a good-quality knife and a sharp peeler.
Here’s how you go about it:
1. Remove the top of the butternut squash, with the green stem. Similarly, chop off the stub at the bottom too.
2. Use a sharp peeler to get all the skin off the butternut squash. Make sure you remove any greenish rind that might remain. The orange-red flesh of the butternut squash should be exposed.
3. Cut the peeled butternut squash into equal halves, length-wise. Cut the squash from top to bottom, right in the centre.
4. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and all the stringy bits from the cavity inside one half of the squash first. Repeat this process for the other half too.
5. Discard the scooped-out seeds and stringy bits.
6. Cut up the butternut squash halves into smaller parts. Then, proceed to cut them into cubes – as big or small as you require. Here, I have cut the squash into cubes that are about 1/2″ in length and breadth.
How to make poriyal using butternut squash
The detailed recipe follows. This is my family recipe for Parangikkai Poriyal – I made it the same way using butternut squash.
This is a vegetarian curry, suitable for those following a vegan or plant-based. It is also a Sattvik dish, prepared using minimal ingredients, no onion or garlic included. This curry can easily be made gluten-free by just omitting the asafoetida used in the tempering here – this is because most asafoetida brands in India include wheat flour. If you are able to get hold of asafoetida that is free of wheat flour – and hence, gluten-free – it can be used without any worries.
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 1 medium-sized butternut squash
- 1/2 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 pinches of asafoetida
- 3-4 dry red chillies
- 1 sprig of fresh curry leaves
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder or to taste
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar or jaggery powder or to taste
- 1/3 cup fresh grated coconut
1. Peel the butternut squash. Remove the seeds and strings within and discard. Chop the squash into cubes.
2. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add in asafoetida, curry leaves and dry red chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
3. Add in the cubed butternut squash, along with a little water, salt and turmeric. Mix well.
4. Reduce flame to medium. Cover and cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes or till the squash is tender.
5. Add in red chilli powder and sugar or jaggery powder. Mix well. If the water has dried up, add in a bit more. Mix well.
6. Cover and cook for 1-2 minutes on medium flame, or till the butternut squash is cooked through. Switch off gas.
7. Mix in the fresh grated coconut. Your Butternut Squash Curry is ready to serve! Serve it at room temperature as a side to rice with rasam/sambar. I like having it with phulkas and plain parathas too.
Tips for cooking
1. I came across butternut squash at Namdhari’s Fresh, and used it to make this poriyal. You may use regular red pumpkin instead, too.
2. Sesame seed oil (nalla ennai) or coconut oil works best in the making of this Butternut Squash Curry.
3. Adjust the quantity of coconut you use, as per personal taste preferences.
4. Slit green chillies can be added in too, while tempering.
5. You can keep the curry really simple and skip the red chilli powder altogether. It will still be very flavourful. I prefer adding just a dash of red chilli powder.
6. Finely chopped fresh coriander can be added to the Parangikkai Poriyal, at the end.
7. If the butternut squash or red pumpkin you are using is very sweet, you may skip the sugar or jaggery powder altogether. We like it with a bit of jaggery.
8. Make sure the butternut squash or pumpkin is not cooked to a mash. It should be cooked just enough, not overdone.
Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!