Hyderabadi Khatti Dal| Lentils Soured With Tamarind

I bring to you today the recipe for Hyderabadi Khatti Dal, a lentil broth from the city of the Nizams that is very simple and yet a burst of bold flavours. Have you heard of this dal before? I only had the pleasure of trying it out recently, and it was love at first bite. I have made this quite a few times over the past month already!

What is Hyderabadi Khatti Dal?

The term ‘khatti dal‘ literally translates into ‘sour lentil broth’, the sourness in question coming from the addition of tamarind. Originating in the city of Hyderabad, this dish can be made with either moong dal, toor dal or masoor dal or a mix of two or more varieties of lentils. What makes the Hyderabadi Khatti Dal supremely flavourful is the tempering of mustard, asafoetida, cumin, dry red chillies, curry leaves and finely chopped garlic that it is given. Can you imagine what a delight this dal would be?

The Hyderabadi Khatti Dal is traditionally served with steamed rice, with a vegetable or meat dish on the side. Tamarind and curry leaves are quite an interesting addition in dal, and I can’t help but thinking that is a cross between the regular Dal Tadka and Sambar. Whatever its origins might be, I’ll tell you that this is a keeper of a recipe – try it out once and I’m sure you’ll want to make it often.

Hyderabadi cuisine and me

My growing-up years in Ahmedabad were punctuated by yearly visits to Hyderabad, in the summer holidays. My uncle was stationed there, and all of us cousins would gang up at his place during our vacations, all set to spend endless days of leisure, cuddled and cosseted by our grandparents. I was too young then to go around exploring the local cuisine of the place, and the food cooked at home was mostly standard Tam-Brahm fare. The little I know today of Hyderabadi cuisine comes from a family friend, a lady from the city whose husband was transferred to Ahmedabad for a few years. I was in college then, a foodie in my own right, and she – let’s call her B Aunty – introduced me to the various fiery pickles, thokku, punugulu, chutneys and curries of Hyderabad, including her signature Gutti Vankaya Koora made with peanuts. A few trysts with ‘Andhra meals’ have happened in Bangalore, but I’m not sure of how close the food was to the authentic stuff.

This month, the members of the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge are exploring cuisine from the state of Telangana, where Hyderabad lies now. Telangana, carved out of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh in 2014, is also home to cities like Secunderabad, Warangal, Khammam, Nizamabad, Nalgonda and Karimnagar, but for the sake of the challenge, I narrowed down my scope to Hyderabad only. Lately, the more I have been reading up about Hyderabadi food, the more I have been realising just how sparse my knowledge of it is, that I know nothing beyond what B Aunty taught me. Can you sense the stirring of desire for a food exploration trip to Hyderabad, in me? 🙂 I now understand there are a whole lot of differences between coastal Andhra fare and that of the arid Telangana, and I can’t wait to figure it out for myself!

About the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

The Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is a wonderful initiative, started by Priya of Priya’s Versatile Recipes. Every month, a bunch of us food bloggers get together to cook dishes from a certain part of India. I love how the challenge makes us take a closer look at the food from various Indian states, to dig deeper in search of the real thing, beyond what it is commonly perceived to be.

I chose to make Hyderabadi Khatti Dal for the challenge, because I am forever looking for new ways to serve dal and this beauty was right up my alley! I was paired with Narmadha of Nams Corner for the month, who assigned me two ingredients to cook with – toor dal and garlic. Luckily, both the ingredients fit right into the dal recipe I was planning to make, and that was that!

Do check out the beautiful Vankaya Pachi Pulusu that Narmadha prepared using the ingredients I assigned her.

How to make Hyderabadi Khatti Dal?

Here’s how I went about making this dal. I largely followed the recipe that Zaiqa has outlined, with a few little variations of my own.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1/2 cup toor dal
  2. A small piece of tamarind
  3. 1 medium-sized tomato
  4. Salt to taste
  5. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  6. 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  7. 2-3 green chillies
  8. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  9. 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder or to taste
  10. 1/2 tablespoon oil or ghee
  11. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  12. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  13. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  14. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  15. 2 dry red chillies
  16. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
  17. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Wash the toor dal well under running water. Drain out all the water.

2. Add enough fresh water to the toor dal to cover it fully. Pressure cook on high flame for 6-7 whistles or till fully cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for 15-20 minutes or till it becomes soft.

4. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.

5. Peel the ginger. Julienne it. Keep aside.

6. Chop the tomato finely. Keep aside.

7. Peel the garlic cloves. Chop finely. Keep aside.

8. When the tamarind has cooled down enough, extract all the juice from it. You may add in a little more water, if required. Keep the tamarind extract ready.

9. When the pressure from the cooker has entirely gone down, get the cooked toor dal out. Mash it well with a wooden buttermilk churner. Keep aside.

10. Take the chopped tomatoes, julienned ginger and slit green chillies in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in about 1/4 cup water and a little salt. Cook on high flame till the tomatoes turn mushy.

11. Now, add the cooked toor dal to the pan. Add in salt to taste, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, tamarind extract, coriander powder and about 1 cup of water. Mix well.

13. Cook on high flame till the dal comes to a boil, then turn the flame down to medium. Let it cook on medium flame till it thickens, 4-5 minutes.

14. Meanwhile, we will prepare the tempering for the dal. Heat the oil or ghee in a small pan. Add the mustard, and allow it to pop. Add the cumin, dry red chillies, curry leaves, asafoetida and finely chopped garlic. Turn heat down to low-medium, and let the ingredients cook for a minute or so. Switch off gas when the garlic starts to brown. Make sure the tempering does not burn. Add this tempering to the dal simmering in the other pan. Let everything cook together for about a minute. Switch off gas.

15. Mix in the finely chopped fresh coriander. Keep the pan covered for 10-15 minutes, for all the flavours to get nicely infused into the dal. Your Hyderabadi Khatti Dal is now ready to serve alongside roti-sabzi and/or steamed rice.

Tips & Tricks

1. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon how thick you want the dal to be.

2. The dal thickens upon cooling, so it is best to stop cooking it when it is still runny.

3. If the heat from the green chillies is enough, you can skip the red chilli powder entirely.

4. You may skip the coriander powder. Some families use it, while some others don’t – from what I read on the Internet. I liked the Hyderabadi Khatti Dal with a bit of coriander powder in it, though.

5. A couple of small onions, sliced thin and fried, can be added to the Hyderabadi Khatti Dal too, along with the tempering.

6. Adjust the quantity of tamarind you use, depending upon personal taste preferences. It is crucial to use just the right amount of tamarind – use too little and the flavours of the dal will not come through brilliantly; use too much and the taste of the dal will be impacted.

7. Don’t forget to keep the dal covered for some time, after tempering it. This is an important step, which helps the dal gather flavours from the garlic and the other ingredients added in the tempering.

8. This Hyderabadi Khatti Dal can be prepared using either moong dal, toor dal or masoor dal or a mix of two or more types of lentils. I have used only toor dal here.

9. You can soak the toor dal, moong dal or masoor dal for 20-30 minutes before pressure-cooking it. I haven’t.

10. If you use oil in the tempering instead of ghee, this is an entirely vegan recipe, suitable to those following a plant-based diet. This recipe can easily be made gluten-free too, by skipping the asafoetida used in the tempering. If you can get your hands on gluten-free asafoetida, you could definitely go ahead and use it.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Beetroot Roti| Indian Spiced Pink Flatbread

Bored of the regular roti and sabzi? Try out this Beetroot Roti!

Beetroot Rotis – Pretty in pink!

I love adding various vegetables to my rotis. It makes life simpler – I don’t have to make the roti and sabzi separately. This Beetroot Roti was something I tried out recently, which went on to become a huge hit with everyone at home.

Aren’t these real beauties?!

Why should you be making these Beetroot Rotis?

These rotis are super delicious and flavourful, even if I say so myself. I love the gorgeous pink colour that the beetroot imparts to them, and my little bub did too. Beetroots are loaded with folate, iron, potassium and fibre, among other nutrients, and using them in rotis like this is a great way of sneaking some beetroot into food, if you have fussy eaters around. 🙂

These rotis are made using completely plant-based ingredients, and are suitable to those on a vegan diet. There’s minimal oil used in them too.

I have mixed grated beetroot with wheat flour, along with a few other spices, to make these Beetroot Rotis. Unlike a paratha, which necessitates the making of a filling, these rotis are super simple to prepare. Try them out for a weekday meal, and I’m sure you’ll fall in love with them too!

Say hello to the #HelloCookPinkChallenge!

October, as we are all aware, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Founded in 1985 by the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the symbolic pink ribbon are now closely identified with October. In fact, the month of October is often referred to as ‘Pinktober’, with several initiatives organised across the world to support the fight against the disease. #HelloCookPinkChallenge is one such initiative on Instagram, where foodies are sharing images of pink-coloured food to promote awareness about breast cancer. This recipe is my humble contribution towards the cause.

Many of us, if not all, have seen dear ones suffer through breast cancer. Here’s a small tribute to these women, a salute to the fighting spirit of those undergoing it right now. This is my little dedication to those amongst us who braved breast cancer, but ultimately lost the battle.

With this post, I would also like to remind all the women out there to get periodic breast cancer check-ups done. Early detection helps, as does talking about the dreaded disease. Don’t neglect yourself, sisters; put health first!

Beetroot Roti recipe

Here’s how I made these Beetroot Rotis.

Ingredients (makes about 15 rotis):

  1. 2 cups wheat flour
  2. 1 medium-sized beetroot, about 1 tightly packed cup when peeled and grated
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 1/2 tablespoon chana masala or to taste
  5. 1-1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  6. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  7. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  8. 1 tablespoon oil + more to make the rotis
  9. A fistful of fresh coriander leaves
  10. 1/2 tablespoon amchoor powder or to taste
  11. 2 green chillies
  12. 5-6 garlic cloves
  13. A 1-inch piece of ginger

Method:

1. Peel the beetroot. Grate it medium-thick. Keep aside.

2. Peel the ginger and garlic cloves. Chop roughly. Chop the green chillies roughly too. Grind the chillies, garlic and ginger together to a paste, using very little water. Keep aside.

3. Chop coriander leaves finely. Keep ready.

4. Take the wheat flour in a large mixing bowl. Add in the grated beetroot, chopped coriander and ginger-garlic-chilli paste.

5. Add salt to taste, chana masala, asafoetida, amchoor powder, sesame seeds and turmeric powder. Mix well.

6. Bind all the ingredients in the mixing bowl together to a soft, pliable dough, adding water little by little as needed. Add in 1 tablespoon oil and knead the dough well for a minute or so.

7. Let the dough rest covered for 15-20 minutes.

8. When the dough has rested, make small balls out of it. Keep them covered. Place a thick roti pan on high flame and let it get heated up.

9. Take one of the dough balls and place it on a clean, flour-dusted work surface. Roll it out into a thin circle.

10. Transfer the dough circle to the hot pan. Turn the heat down to medium. Drizzle a little oil around the roti. Cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes or until the roti is done on the bottom. Flip over. Cook the roti on the other side too, for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the cooked Beetroot Roti onto a serving plate and serve hot with pickle/raita.

11. Prepare rotis from all the dough, in a similar manner.

Notes

1. For best results, use a fresh, firm beetroot.

2. Garam masala can be used in place of the chana masala. I prefer using chana masala.

3. A bit of jaggery powder and/or curd can be added to the dough, too. I haven’t.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Rava Kesari Recipe| How To Make Kesari Bath

What is Rava Kesari?

Rava Kesari, a sweet treat made using rava (aka sooji or semolina), is one of the most commonly prepared desserts in South India. Also called, simply, Kesari or Kesari Bath, it is almost always present as part of the lunch/dinner platter on festivals like Diwali and Navratri, poojas, weddings and other religious and social occasions. You will find this dish occupying pride of place in several restaurants in Tamilnadu and Karnataka, too. There is no wondering why this dish is so hugely popular – fragrant and delicious, gooey with ghee, well-made Rava Kesari is a shortcut to heaven (in a good way!), especially when served piping hot.

Is Rava Kesari different from Sheera and Sooji Ka Halwa?

Rava Kesari is similar to the Sooji Ka Halwa or Sheera of North India, but there are subtle differences. Rava Kesari is softer and less dry than Sheera. The colour of both is different too – Rava Kesari has a pretty, orange hue (all thanks to food colouring!) as opposed to the natural brown shade of the Sheera. Fruits like pineapple and mango are often added to Rava Kesari, to make it more flavourful and delicious.

Home-made Rava Kesari with no artificial colours

The version of Rava Kesari we make at home, however, has lesser ghee than its restaurant counterparts. It is also free of synthetic food colouring; I use saffron to give it a beautiful yellow hue. It isn’t exactly a guilt-free indulgence, but a hot favourite at home and I make it quite often. I love how easy it is to make – it just takes 15-20 minutes from start to finish!

How to make Kesari Bath or Rava Kesari, my way

Today, I am going to share with you how to make Kesari Bath from scratch, my way. You must try out this fuss-free dessert this Diwali, if you haven’t already.

Here we go.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 1/2 cup fine rava (semolina or sooji)
  2. 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons ghee
  3. 2-1/2 cups water
  4. 2 pinches of saffron (kesar) threads
  5. 13/4 cup sugar or to taste
  6. 10-12 cashewnuts
  7. 1 tablespoon raisins
  8. 2 pinches of cardamom powder

Method:

1. Chop the cashewnuts roughly. Keep ready.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a pan. Add in the rava, and turn the flame down to low-medium.

3. Saute the rava in the ghee till it becomes nice and aromatic, keeping the flame low-medium. This should take 6-7 minutes. Take care to ensure that the rava does not burn.

4. While the rava is cooking, take the water in another pan. Place on high flame and add in the strands of saffron. Let the water come to a rolling boil, then turn the flame down to low-medium.

5. When the rava is done sauteeing, slowly add it to the hot water in the other pan, stirring constantly to prevent the formation of lumps.

6. Keep cooking on low-medium heat till most of the water has been absorbed by the rava, 3-4 minutes.

7. Add sugar to the pan. Mix well. Continue cooking on low-medium heat till the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan. This should take 3-4 minutes. Stir intermittently.

8. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee in a pan. Add in the chopped cashewnuts and raisins. Turn flame down to low-medium. Let the cashewnuts start browning and the raisins plump up. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. When done, pour the ingredients over the rava mixture cooking in the other pan. Mix well.

9. Cook everything together till the mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan, as stated above. Switch off gas when the mixture is still runny – do not overcook it. Your Rava Kesari is ready! Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use fine sooji or rava (rather than the bigger, coarser type), for best results.

2. Adjust the quantity of sugar as per personal taste preferences.

3. You may increase the quantity of ghee you use. The above quantity was just perfect for us.

4. Make sure you saute the rava well in ghee, otherwise the kesari might have a ‘raw’ feel to it. You don’t have to brown the rava – just cook it till it starts emanating a nice fragrance.

5. You can use milk instead of water, in the above Rava Kesari recipe. Alternatively, you may use a mix of half water and half milk. I prefer using only water.

6. Make sure the cashewnuts and raisins do not get burnt, while frying them up.

7. Do not overcook the Rava Kesari. Just cook till it starts leaving the sides of the pan. Overcooking might make the kesari dry.

8. Orange food colour can be used in the above Rava Kesari recipe too. I have coloured the kesari naturally, though, using saffron.

9. Keep the Rava Kesari a bit runny, as it hardens quite a bit on cooling.

10. There’s a bit of multi-tasking involved in the making of this dish, as you can see from the above Rava Kesari recipe. Movements have to be quick so as to arrive at the perfect end result. It is best to keep handy all the ingredients needed to make the Rava Kesari.

11. The Rava Kesari is, mostly, cooked on low-medium heat. Regular stirring is essential, to get a lump-free, delicious Rava Kesari.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Aval Mixture| Low-Oil Poha Chivda

I hope you are gearing up to celebrate Diwali. I can’t believe it’s already time for the big festival, but it is! We have been busy cooking up various sweet and savoury dishes in preparation for Diwali, which arrives this weekend. Today, I present to you our family recipe for one of these Diwali-special foods – Aval Mixture aka Poha Chivda, a delicious snack made using beaten rice.

A bit of background about Diwali

Before we get to that, though, let me talk a bit about Diwali, for those readers who aren’t acquainted with it. Popularly called the Festival of Lights, Diwali is a Hindu festival that celebrates the return of Lord Rama with his wife Seeta to Ayodha, having won a hard-earned victory over Ravana. It is one of India’s biggest festivals, signifying the victory of good over evil, of light over darkness.

There are small variations in the way Diwali is celebrated in the various states of India, but the over-arching beliefs are more or less the same. Diwali means shopping, new clothes, dressing up to the hilt, lighting lamps, getting together with friends and family, prayers, gifts, bursting crackers, loads of food, spreading love and good cheer all around.

In Tamilnadu, Diwali day (or Deepavali, as it is called) sees families rising as early as 4 a.m. for a rejuvenating oil massage and bath, which is followed by the wearing of new clothes and jewellery. Then, it is time to head out to burst crackers, closely followed by a special lunch. The evening is spent meeting friends and family, serving and eating the sweets and snacks painstakingly prepared in the few days before Diwali. 7-Cup Cake, Rava Kesari, Omapudi, Aval Mixture, Ribbon Pakoda, Murukku, Kasi Halwa and Payasam are some dishes commonly prepared in our family for Diwali.

Aval Mixture or Poha Chivda

Aval Mixture or Poha Chivda is prepared using beaten rice or poha, and we make it with the minimal use of oil. There is no deep-frying involved, which makes this a relatively guilt-free festival snack. The cashewnuts and raisins, groundnuts and jaggery, that are added in make the mixture rich and special.

This Aval Mixture is slightly sweet, slightly spicy, and just the right amount of salty – making it a burst of flavours. It is a completely vegetarian preparation, suitable to those following a vegan or plant-based diet. If you are using gluten-free asafoetida (without any wheat flour added to it), this Aval Mixture recipe is gluten-free as well. In case you aren’t able to get hold of gluten-free asafoetida, you can just skip it altogether too, without any significant change in the taste of the dish.

Our family recipe for Aval Mixture, for #DiwaliDhamaka

Here’s how the Aval Mixture is made in our family. I share this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group, which is showcasing Diwali-special foods this week. Yes, the group theme this week is – #DiwaliDhamaka!

Ingredients (makes 3 cups):

  1. 2 tablespoons oil
  2. 3 cups medium-thick beaten rice (poha or aval)
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  5. 1/2 tablespoon red chilli powder or to taste
  6. 2-3 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste

For the tempering:

  1. 2 tablespoons oil
  2. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  3. 1 tablespoon raisins
  4. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
  5. 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  6. 4-5 dry red chillies
  7. 10-12 cashewnuts, halved
  8. 1-1/2 tablespoons groundnuts

Method:

1. Dry roast the groundnuts on medium flame till crisp. Ensure that they don’t get burnt. Transfer to a plate and keep aside.

2. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Turn the flame down to low-medium. Add in the beaten rice.

3. Keep stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes, keeping the flame low-medium, or till the beaten rice gets nice and crisp. Do not overcook the beaten rice, or it will become too hard. Take care to ensure that the beaten rice doesn’t burn.

4. Transfer the fried beaten rice to a large mixing bowl or vessel.

5. Now, we will prepare the tempering. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the same pan. Add in the mustard, and allow them to pop. Turn the flame down to medium. Add in the raisins, curry leaves, asafoetida, dry red chillies, halved cashewnuts and dry-roasted groundnuts. Mix gently. Fry these ingredients on medium flame, till the cashewnuts start browning, the curry leaves get crisp and the raisins puff up. Stir constantly. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Switch off gas.

6. Add salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and jaggery powder to the beaten rice. Mix gently but well, using your hands. Ensure that the seasonings are evenly distributed through the beaten rice.

7. Now, pour the tempering over the beaten rice. Mix it in, using a spatula. Your Poha Chivda is ready to use! Allow it to cool down fully before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight container.

Tips and tricks

1. I have used regular refined oil and medium-thick poha (the type we use to make poha upma).

2. Make sure you use a large vessel to fry the poha. The pan should not be overcrowded. The poha should have enough space to move around in the pan. If you have a smaller pan only at hand, you can fry the poha in two or more batches, using a little oil at a time.

3. Some families dry roast the poha, and then proceed to add the seasonings and the tempering. We prefer making it the above way.

4. Slivers of dry coconut, chopped green chillies, fried gram (pottukadalai), chopped almonds are some other things you could add to the tempering. We usually don’t.

5. It is important to make sure that neither the poha nor the tempering gets burnt. Please do ensure this, otherwise the taste of the Poha Chivda might be compromised.

6. Some people deep-fry the poha before proceeding to add the seasonings and the tempering to it. You could do that, too.

7. Let the fried poha cool down slightly before seasoning it. Adding the seasoning and the tempering to very hot poha can cause it to go limp.

8. Powdered sugar can be used in the above Aval Mixture recipe, instead of the jaggery powder. Alternatively, you can omit the sugar or jaggery altogether. I prefer using jaggery powder.

9. Make sure you don’t overcook the poha, which might cause it to become overly hard.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Parangikkai Poriyal| Butternut Squash Curry, Tamilnadu Style

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!

The butternut squash that came home with me!

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.

Parangikkai Poriyal, or Tamilnadu style curry made using butternut squash

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. Cut the butternut squash into equal halves, length-wise. In other words, cut the squash from top to bottom, right in the centre.

3. 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.

4. Use a sharp peeler to get all the skin off both halves of the butternut squash. Make sure you remove any greenish rind that might remain. The orange-red flesh of the butternut squash should be exposed. The peel and the scooped-out seeds and strings are normally discarded, but they can be used to make soup stock or chutney.

5. Cut up the butternut squash halves into smaller parts.

6. 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. 1 medium-sized butternut squash
  2. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  3. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  4. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  5. 3-4 dry red chillies
  6. 1 sprig of fresh curry leaves
  7. Salt to taste
  8. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder or to taste
  10. 1/2 tablespoon sugar or jaggery powder or to taste
  11. 1/3 cup fresh grated coconut

Method:

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.

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