Butternut Squash Masala

I used to consider myself a “pseudo-vegetarian” since I went through periods when I consciously avoided meat without fully committing to the vegetarian cause. It was hard at first, but it got so much easier when I figured out how to cook and season vegetables to my liking. This is one of the concoctions that made the switch much less painful.

I got my first inspiration from many of the common South Indian dishes I tasted in restaurants, and when I visited friends. Seriously–meat becomes a non-issue when you have such an array of different colors, flavors, and textures to harness. I’ll need someone better versed in Indian cuisines to teach me before I’ll go around claiming to capture “authentic” flavors, but for now, I’m satisfied (and full) from several of my attempts.

I made this for dinner last month, but the “first draft” dates back to a weekend during my senior year in college. Dani came to visit, and I had plans to save money, (and score some points) by cooking something awesome before we went out. She was really into butternut squash that year, so I wanted to show off a bit, and prepare it in a way that would temper it’s sweetness. I ended up adding coconut milk in case I made it too spicy for her, and wound up creating one of her favorite comfort foods. I used coconut flakes in lieu of coconut milk this time–mainly for aesthetic reasons–but all the flavors were still there.

Squash Masala 2.jpg

This is cheap, filling, and easy to throw together. What’s more; you can serve it with rice, or bread, like I did here. I didn’t have any naan, or other flat bread on hand this time, but I did find some really fluffy bread at the farmer’s market, and figured it would do the trick. Whatever you decide, just bring extra–you’re probably going to go back for seconds…or thirds.

Let’s cook.

You’ll Need:

1 Butternut Squash, cubed

4 Cups Chickpeas, pre-cooked

2 Shallots, minced

4 Cloves of Garlic, minced

2 Limes, juiced and zested

1 Tbs Ginger, minced

1 Lemongrass Root, minced

1 Cup Curry Leaves

1/2 Cup Un-sweetened Coconut Flakes

1/4 Cup Parsley, chopped

1/4 Cup Soy Sauce

1 Tbs Cumin

1 Tbs Coriander Powder

1 Tbs Paprika

1 Tsp Ginger Powder

1 Tsp Chili Flakes

1 Tsp Turmeric

Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Boil two quarts of salted water in a medium pot. Add cubed squash to the water, cover, and boil for one minute. Transfer blanched squash to a large bowl of ice water to cool rapidly, then drain. Transfer to a cutting board, mince, then set aside.
  2. Combine shallots, garlic, ginger, dried chilies, lemongrass, soy sauce, lime zest, and spices in a food processor with two tablespoons of water. Blend until a smooth paste forms.
  3. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a wok or other large pot on medium, then stir fry the curry paste from step two until fragrant. Add curry leaves once the paste changes color, and continue to stir the leaves begin to curl. Add minced squash, and stir until soft.
  4. Add coconut flakes, lime juice, and chickpeas, then simmer for roughly fifteen minutes. Add chopped parsley, and taste for seasoning.
  5. Plate, and serve with warm bread, or rice.



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