Butternut Squash curry Indian Style, Little oil

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I had a small Butternut squash and I thought about cooking it. We in India generally use pumpkin for preparing curry, well, same family, so why not. And when Halloween is so near.

In Dehradun city, North India, in 1987, we used to eat at some restaurants who prepared a delectable dish with pumpkin a little sweet and sour, and a bit mushy, I tried to recreate my fantasy.

So peeled and cored the squash, as you see and cut in small pieces. I took two tomatoes and peeled them (tomato skin left in curry is loosely hanging around and shreds are conspicuous by their presence). Tomatoes should be felt, no seen. I cut the tomatoes in small pieces, and kept an inch of ginger whole ungrated (my grandkids do not like ginger shreds on their palate but fragrance of ginger ok. I wanted to add some Cayenne Pepper, but avoided again because young children were involved. In go two cloves of garlic beaten to submission, but left intact.

So, out comes a cooker, heated and with a little canola oil (canola is Canadian Mustard). Added fenugreek seeds to splutter, and then added the squash and tomato pieces. Pumpkin is always made with addition of Fenugreek, not regular Cumin in North India, don’t ask me why. I never asked my mother. And now I can not….she is smiling from above.

I added one teaspoon of turmeric concentrate, a little brown sugar (sweet variety….not the drug), turmeric powder and salt. cooked it under pressure, but no whistle. Too delicate for that. I decided to cool the cooker under tap after a while. All was guesswork. I love to take risks in the kitchen.

Ended with a little curry powder, (garm masala) and a hint of EVOO for the kids. I am sorry, I in a hurry did not take the photo of the hot stuff and its cold now. having been in the fridge last half an hour that I am typing.Squash curry

So little was left over, I am delighted.

If nk (that is me) can cook, so can you. Do not be afriad to take risk (in the kitchen). Never.

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Cooking Basics

What can impart a sour taste to a vegetable dish in Indian cooking. You got a choice:

  • Unripe mango…..either fresh or dried and powdered
  • vinegar
  • Pomegranate seed powder
  • sour curd……old curd
  • Kokum (garcinia indica)
  • tamarind
  • lemon
  • Citric acid
  • aonla (indian gooseberry) fresh or dried and powdered
  • tomatoes

    Did I leave any stuff which gives sour taste?

    Each of these have their own typical taste, fragrance, texture and color. Additionally they go with specific type of vegetables. Moms have been using very specific combinations, because of the medicinal properties associated with each. Depending upon the thickness of the curry, and the mixture of sourness with sweetness that one requires.

    It also depends on the guy who is cooking and his preferences. I love to add sour curd, because I like the taste. In lentils, I add more of kokum, because it imparts a unique flavor and a little red color. Fragrance wise nothing to beat lemon, added after cooking.

    chickpeas
    Bengal Gram (small hard colored variety)

    Aonla or gooseberry in powdered form can give a deep grey color which is needed by the Bengal gram curry.

    Tomatoes come in various shapes sizes and sourness. Use as pulp, or whole, without skin and seeds. Seeds are the sour portion.

    The dish has to be designed on the drawing-board of the mind of the chef before starting, and that will decide the ingredients. The spice should be subtle rather than bold unless you are cooking for Jats (body builders) who require even the spices to be robust and muscular.

    Good luck in the kitchen!

Without oil, another Indian Vegetable

Trichosanthes dioicaThe entry in Wikipedia is….Trichosanthes dioica is also known as the pointed gourd, parwal/parval (from Hindi),Kovakkai(from Tamil) or thonde kayi (from Kannada), or potol (from Assamese, Sanskrit, Oriya or Bengali (পটল) pôţol) “Paror” in Maithili, “Parol” in Magahi and “Parora” in Bhojpuri, Urdu and Awadhi.

It is called Parwal in Hindi.

In 1960s the rich Delhi-wallahs used to eat this vegetable because it was expensive, or the other way round 🙂 Today the poor eat it, also the quality available in my market is a little extra ripened having a yellow core and the seeds as hard as the teeth.

I thought of a little innovation, removed the core, boiled with some water and strained to remove the hard seeds. I used the liquor so obtained as the base for the vegetable. Because the core has taste and gives body and aroma, I did not discard it wholesale. Remember “Baby with the bath water?”

You are now to see the process in the photos below, the Parwal is peeled, ends discarded, and cut in halves.

Peeled Parwal
Peeled Parwal

With a spoon, the yellow inside core is removed and boiled. Then handheld blender does the blending to remove the stone-like seeds. Some were having white cores, I did not remove the cores and used as such.

White core
White core

After dicing the Parwals, Tomatoes and masala that is turmeric, coriander, green chillies, salt, ginger and cuminseeds were added alongwith the parwal in a pressure cooker, heated till first whistle and allowed to cool on its own.

Final act is to add Garam masala (curry powder). No oil….none at all, no tadka like we usually do, no tamaasha, all taste.

Minimal masala, low on spices high on health. At Rs 20 (third of a $) for a Kg, very inexpensive.

The photos show 1Kg preparation, good for 5 persons for one time.

When I ate it I realized that the dish can be improved in color, texture and taste. Next time there will be some crushed boiled potatoes to add body, and the tomatoes will be in a skinned avatar. Skins irritate. 🙂

Diced stuff
Diced stuff
Cored Parwal
Cored Parwal
yellow core
yellow core
Seeds discarded
Seeds discarded
Straining the liquor
Straining the liquor

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The Curry powder (Garam Masaala)
The Curry powder (Garam Masaala)

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Close-up
Close-up
Final product
Final product
With a Roti (chapati)
With a Roti (chapati)

Indian cooking, with no oil

IMG_20150511_211240Cooked French beans with carrots and potatoes in a North Indian “Sabzi” to be eaten with chapatis.

The Carrot is an “English” carrot lighter than the Indian variety, and is less juicy and less sweet, it does not get squished. hence preferred.

This has no oil added and is a pretty simple dish to prepare. all the time taken is in dicing one carrot, potatoes (two medium), and a pound of beans with ends clipped. I like my vegetables washed and skinned (pesticides reside in the skin….so do the vitamins and minerals…but…) Everything cut small for ease of cooking. Time taken in winters and in summers are different, ambient in summers is 32C in kitchen, and in winters 10C. So after the Pressure cooker emits first whistle and we switch off the gas on the stove, the remnant cooking in winters is not that prolonged as in summer, you got the point! I also chose to add two diced tomatoes.

Loaded the French beans, potatoes, carrot and tomatoes in a three liter cooker and added 50ml or so water. Also a little turmeric, two chopped green chillies, chopped ginger, some coriander powder, and a little salt. Closed the lid, waited for the whistle and switched off the gas immediately after the whistle.

Garam masala (Curry powder) and lemon juice (a tea spoonful) was added after the pressure in the cooker had come down on its own, that is the cooking time. Tomatoes juices mixed with the 50 ml water, and the coriander gives the dish the required “body”. I did not add any onion, garlic, or cilantro leaves, because they overpower the delicate aroma of the beans.

Aroma unfortunately does not travel on the internet circuit. Sirf ehsaas hai ye rooh se mahsoos karo. I am sorry, even ehsaas and rooh can not be effectively translated in English language.

“Season it, and season it again” my favorite chef says. I love those guys who love to cook, simply by feel. It is heavenly. Ever seen an accomplished artist painting by measurements. The scale is for school kids. Same is true for kitchen, scale is for the novice. What says thou?  I taste the beans, adjust the seasoning, and taste it again. Heavenly!

English carrot
English carrot