Two words which sent shivers down my spine as a child-that Pakistani roasted squash dish which I just could not abide as a child. I don’t know whether it was the nursery food-like texture on my tongue of the cooked vegetable or the sight of it; one amorphous mound on my plate. I remember my parents scooping it all up with a chapati and adding spoonfuls of piquant mint chutney to the equation. It wasn’t for me.
So on those nights, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese dinner was on my plate (I know, I know). As an adult now, I’d rather go hungry than eat ‘Mac&Cheese’, let alone any other sort of boxed meal. And, I have come to love kadu; butternut squash immensely now. Roasted in the oven till they are candy-like and blitzed with plump roasted garlic, some homemade herby chicken stock, a dash of cream and you have a soup. Sauted in the pan with roasted cumin seed and caramelised onions the way my Ami makes them. Served with a mango pickle on the side. On top of rocket, with some Iranian feta crumbled on top. Some walnuts for textural crunch.
And finally, my favourite, served as verrines in the Afghan manner: tossed in spices, roasted till crisp along the edges, then layered with dense, creamy Greek-style yoghurt with a dusting of Irani mint on top to cut through the sweetness.
Gorgeous with a thick bread, freshly warmed in the oven.
Or you can serve it in traditional Afghan style as a borani, a slathering of yoghurt, topped with half-moon shapes of squash.
Serves 4 as a first course
Pre-heat oven to 400F
*Large baking tray (cookie sheet tray) lined with parchment paper
*1 medium-sized butternut squash, halved lengthwise, peeled, de-seeded and and sliced into 1/4 inch slices (they will look like arcs)
*Olive oil for roasting
*1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
*1/2 tsp coriander seed powder
*1/2 tsp cumin seed powder
*3/4 cup thick Greek-style yoghurt
*sea salt to taste
*dried mint + extra for garnish
*In a large mixing bowl, combine sliced butternut squash with a good drizzle of olive oil (enough so it coats each piece), turmeric, coriander seed powder and cumin seed powder.
*Transfer to cookie tray, (spread evenly across it) and place in oven for 20 minutes.
*When roasted, sprinkle with sea salt and allow to come to room temperature- around 15 minutes.
*Spoon yoghurt into individual glasses and layer with butternut squash slices. Or you could slather a layer into individual small plates and place butternut squash slices on top.
*Dust with dried mint and a drizzle of olive oil.
*Serve with pillowy bread like nan-e-barberi from an Irani store. Or you could use pita bread.