Borani Kadu: Roasted Butternut Squash Verrines in the Afghan Manner

Kadu Bharta.

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.



  1. Mmmm !! Looks great and I love the childhood anecdote !!! I was worse !!! I didn’t eat a green leaf till age 15 !!!!! Only meat and potatoes !!!!

  2. This sounds delicious and I am going to try it asap. And I shall be having it with Prosecco. xxx

  3. Isn’t it funny the things we can’t stand as children but come to love as adults– I have a few of those! The salad version sounds yummy (I love French feta and walnuts together!)

  4. This is a great kadu recipe and I can’t wait to try it soon. sounds delicious! I would rather go hungry than eat boxed mac & cheese too. Beautiful photos, as always!

  5. I know exactly what you mean, I used to dread the sight of Okra as a child but now I love that slimy goodness 🙂
    Your Borani Kadu recipe is delish! Butternut Squash so versatile especially in soups. I recently had a heavenly Butternut Squash Soup with Sage & Ginger in NYC which I just cannot stop thinking about!

  6. such a versatile wonder is the butternut pumpkin! (squash). I always enjoy different takes on how to serve it…these look tasty! cheers kari

  7. Welcome back! And what a lovely post – they would work so well as a starter at this time of year x

  8. Oh I can relate to that. Butter squash was on my hate things as a child or even as teen. And now I can’t get enough of it . I cook it with same spices topped with yogurt but love the way you serve it and I didn’t know it has an Afghan name as cute as Borani Kadu. For me it was always roast butter squash with Indian spices with dollop of yogurt!

  9. Yet another gorgeous looking dish – love the presentation in the glasses. I adore squash and always have (beetroot is the childhood horror that i have now embraced, can’t get enough of it roasted then feta crumbled over.) Your photographs are stunning, as ever.

  10. What a gorgeous dish! It is so interesting how our tastes change once we get older. All kids seem to hate everything that adults enjoy eating, butternut squash being one of those things.

  11. my vice as a child was arvi, but the awful taste of arvi has not grown on me in adulthood. hehe.

    this is truly a feast for the eyes, beautiful colors and flavors!

    i love this naan, i buy it in bulk in TO and freeze it because we don’t get it here :(.

  12. Finally Shayma!! was getting rather impatient to read your next post 🙂 Oh, I love kadu with white rice…this is such a simple dish.

    I still haven’t managed to try karelay (bitter gourd) – just one of those things I have disliked since a very young age. Although my family thoroughly enjoys the way my mother cooks her karelay.

    Ps: My guilty pleasure, Batchelor’s pasta’s when I couldn’t care less to cook a proper meal 😛

  13. mmmm che bontà Shayma…very very nice!

  14. Lovely dish. Isn’t it funny how our palates mature as we get older? The very things we turned out noses up as kids end up being beloved in adulthood. For me, spinach comes to mind. Xoxo.

  15. Oh, I love butternut squash – something I didn’t discover until I was in my late teens, and then only rarely. Cornwall was not the place for interesting ingredients then (how things change).

    This sounds delicious, the sweet squash, tangy yoghurt, sharp and salty feta. A great flavour and texture combination. And relatively quick and easy to make too. Lovely.

  16. Hi Shayma!
    Loving this post because I have moved to the East Coast of the US and I see buttnernut squash is in season. I was just wondering how to cook it! I recently got married and moved country to a place without much family, friends or job yet so am trying to follow in your footsteps and occupy my time cooking these amazing dishes you post about. My skills are extremely limited though so I may end up asking really ridiculous questions!

  17. Kadu…yes, the perfect antidote for searing summers…relished with homemade youghurt it creates the illusion of entering an air cooled room!!! Thanks Spicey for this lovely recipe and a reminder of what one zealously avoided when growing up but falls in love with during mid-life.

  18. Lovely recipe + photos S. I too couldn’t abide roasted squash or squash cooked in any manner as a kid, now can’t get enough of it. Love the idea of serving this in verrines, nice touch 🙂

  19. Good lord Shayma…you’ve given the humble kaddu a makeover and it’s walking the ramp! Bravo my dear, I was anti-squash as a kid, but then again where was food served looking so good then! I love savoury and this is what you have to make for me when we meet! YUM YUM!

  20. Shayma dear – I have never even heard of kaddu bhurta…but cant wait to make this! It looks divine.

  21. Hi Shayma….
    clicked in here from Pamella’s blog and it’s a visual treat…
    Kaddu, my favorite, dressed up to kill 🙂
    Loved your blog.

  22. Its interesting how we change as we grow up. I hated anything sweet in my food (desserts were ok) and so never liked squash or pumpkin or anything like that. Butternut Squash is one of my favorites now! I don’t know when the hatred changed to love 🙂

  23. Onedayatatime says:

    Great blog,i really am interested in Middle Eastern/Asian cooking(South Asian and Pacific) as it is so full of life and flavour!Food is so powerful and i love the way it is passed down from on generation to another.

  24. This was tasty for DD1 (5 years old), DD2 (18 months) and I. A little messy mind you, with the turmeric but made the organic unhomoginised yogurt i used pretty. I used a large organic butternut squash slender end so all the slices were unifirm and served it in the traditional Afghan manner. Served with a thin version of Socca bread to be gluten free.

    • @UmmBinat That sounds lovely – I am glad your little ones got to enjoy this dish. Thank you for writing to give me feedback; I appreciate that.

  25. Did I tell you that I love i? It’s one my favorites. I forgot to tell you that it was a hit whenever I made it. Making it again tomorrow to serve with mung daal goshth and shahi paneer.

  26. none better than suqash which liked mint for mix of yogurt,…


  1. […] where suddenly it was everywhere. It was somewhat of a disappointment, I prefer pumpkin. However, this recipe was quite nice and looks fancy too, the squash slices looking like crescent moons. Despite the […]

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