Sunday, November 27, 2011

Butternut Soup with an Indian twist

All my family recipes for red pumpkin (bhopLa in Marathi & koLu in Gujarati) fit perfectly for the butternut squash. I must confess that I actually like butternut squash a tad more than the regular pumpkin. But it became a regularly featured vegetable in my kitchen only when Gudiya started on her solids. She just loved the mushy paste of butternut squash and in her own way, she communicated that she wanted more. and thus butternut squash entered and stayed in my kitchen.

I soon discovered that rassa, bharit, thepla, shaak, halva - butternut squash just stole the show. The most simplest way of cooking butternut squash was to throw in the sambar or koLumbo. The most difficult part about butternut squash is peeling. Now, the supermarkets even carry peeled and cut chunks of butternut squash.

For my Thanksgiving feast, I generally make at least 2 dishes with Indian flavor. This year, it was butternut squash and green beans. I was thinking of ways to make butternut soup. An all American recipe would have been to cook or roast the squash and saute with ginger, onion, curry powder and puree it and add a dash of heavy cream. I wanted to use this basic recipe but give it an Indian flavor. Now, none in my family has ever used this mystic blend called "Curry Powder". and I didn't want to use heavy cream. Also, butternut squash tastes really good with koLumbo. Voila! I decided to make butternut sambar soup without using daal.

Butternut "Sambar" Soup
Butternut Soup with an Indian twist
1 lb butternut chunks (I used pre-cut from Costco)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt to taste
3/4 cup coconut milk
A pinch of jaggery
1/2 tsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp KoLumbo Masala

2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 sprigs of curry leaves
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup roughly chopped red onion or shallots

1. Coat butternut squash pieces with olive oil. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake for about 30 minutes or so till they are cooked.
2. Heat oil in a saucepan. Add all spices and curry leaves. As they sizzle, add ginger, garlic and onion/shallots. Saute till they are soft. Add 2 tbsp koLumbo masala.
3. Add roasted butternut squash  in a food processor. Puree it using water as needed.
4. Return the puree to the saucepan. Add more water to get the desired consistency.
5. Add salt, jaggery and tamarind paste. Bring to boil.
6. Switch gas to low. Stir in coconut milk. Simmer for 5 minutes.
7. Pour in an individual serving bowls adding 2 tbsp of cooked, brown basmati rice.

Note -
1. You can adjust the amount of koLumbo masala per your liking.
2. Instead of roasting, you can pressure cook the squash. Or saute the chunks with onion mixture and then puree it. However, roasting brings out a wonderful flavor.
3. You can puree onion mixture along with butternut squash if you do not want to have bits of onions and garlic.

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