2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 medium (roughly 2 pound) butternut squash
A good lug of vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 green chillies – fairly finely chopped (with or without seeds depending on how hot your prefer)
2 small, dried red chilies also fairly finely chopped – you could also use a teaspoon of red chile flakes
1 400g can coconut milk
1/4 can water (rinse out the empty coconut milk can)
1 teaspoon salt (or preferred amount to taste )
Coriander, for garnish
Cooked rice, to serve
You have no idea what it’s like to feed the cavernous stomach of Brenda Gateway. If eating was an Olympic sport she’d be a gold medal wearing champion. But it isn’t, and she isn’t either. It’s a wonder she isn’t the size of an elephant quite frankly. The other day she arrived back with a suspiciously large butternut squash which she had felt inclined to buy on a whim. Who buys a squash on a whim I ask you? Brenda. I could have slapped her but instead, feeling congenial for a change I dropped a nice little valium into her coffee and some well deserved peace reigned for several hours, before she woke and got chastised for being lazy.
Now finding something to do with a butternut squash is interesting because it has a mild sweetish flavour and so for a savoury dish this made it a challenge.
So this is what you do:
Take a small pan and heat on medium with no oil and once fairly hot, add the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds and dry fry, stirring and moving around for a minute or two until some of the seeds start to pop and the spices are beginning to smoke slightly and smell fragrant. Once they have had their warming, leave them to cool and then grind them up in a heavy mortar and pestle. Why heavy? Well you need to grind those seeds into a dust! Weight always helps as the cat has found when Brenda sits down too fast in Ruby’s favourite chair, and Ruby hasn’t moved quickly enough. By the way, this is worth doing as the aroma of freshly roasted and ground spices is unbeatable.
Now take the squash and peel it and then dice it into cubes – don’t obsess, but your cubes should be 1 – 1 1/2 cm, that sort of size (you’re looking for something not so small that would turn to porridge while cooking, but not so large as to be unwieldy to eat)
Add the vegetable oil to a large saucepan and combine the ginger, onion and garlic, and cook until the onion is soft. At this point add the spices that you have previously dry fried and ground, the chopped green chilies, the chopped red chilies and the turmeric. Stir in for a couple of minutes.
Then add the squash, coconut milk, water and salt and simmer for roughly 3/4 hour until the squash is cooked through and tender – check and stir a couple of times during the cooking time in case the bottom is starting to catch.
Garnish with some gorgeous chopped fresh coriander and serve with some pilau rice – just a few lightly crushed cardamom pods, a teaspoon each of turmeric and salt and a dessertspoon of veg oil cooked with basmati rice.