Thursday, May 18, 2006

Recipe Thursday

I've never seen 'recipe Thursday' anywhere before, so I just made it up. I don't want to talk about poop anymore, or God, and I haven't thought of anything else exciting, so I thought I would just give away the store here, and share one of our family's favorite recipes.

This picture is what I got when I googled "Curried Butternut Squash", but it doesn't look exactly like the dish I'm describing. Similar though, and tasty looking.

Ted's parents were born and raised in Guyana, which is in South America. If you don't know much about Guyana, it was a British Colony. After Great Britian abolished slavery, they still needed cheap/free labor to work the rice plantations, so they set about recruiting, tricking, and stealing people from India, and bringing them to Guyana. Thus, the population of Guyana is mostly of African or Indian descent, with some Native Americans thrown in, but really, not many to my understanding. The culture is mixed, African, Carribean, and Indian. So when Ted makes a curry, it is different than you would get at an Indian restaurant, or a Thai restaraunt, or a Carribean restaurant. They're all good, mind you, but different.

One of the side dishes that Ted's mom makes regularly is 'Curried Pumpkin'. It goes FAST. Everyone loves Ma's Pumpkin. So, I decided it might be a good idea to try to learn to make it myself. Like so many folks, my mother-in-law does not really work with a recipe, just throws things in a pot the way she learned, improvising when she wants to, and she's a wonderful cook. Unfortunately, I don't cook well that way. I need to make a recipe several times to get it right, from a recipe, before I feel comfortable branching out.

I asked Ma to teach me to make her curried pumpkin. She made it with me, and I wrote down the ingredients and my best guess as to the amounts of everything required. It hasn't ever turned out quite as good as hers, but it's still pretty yummy.

The first thing to know is that even though it's called "Curried Pumpkin", it's curried butternut squash. So she'll say to cut up the pumpkin, and I'll say, "Like a jack-o-lantern pumpkin?"
"No, that would taste horrid. You use butternut squash." OK. That's the last you'll hear of it being called squash. It's pumpkin. But not.

The second thing to know is that you can buy pre-cut butternut squash sometimes in the grocery store, usually near the bagged salad greens, or frozen puree or diced squash, but these don't seem to work as well. I'm not sure if they're too old or what, but it's just not as tasty as if you do it yourself.

The third thing to know is that you don't want to whip this rather than mashing it...too much air gets in there, and it's more like a mousse. Unless you want a mousse. Then, go for it. I tried it once, and Ted and Maya still liked it, but I thought it ruined the dish.

Lastly, keep the heat low. You don't want to carmelize the squash.

Ma's Curried Pumpkin
1 tblsp (approx) vegetable or olive oil
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, minced
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped fine (this is a pain - I never cut mine as fine as Ma does)
1/8 tsp or less cayenne pepper - remember, you can always add more, but you can't take it out.
1 tblsp regular sugar
1 tsp good curry powder

Heat oil over medium-low heat in a pan. I use a wide bottomed pan, not a very deep one. Add cumin seeds, garlic, and onion. Sautee until onion browns. Don't rush.

Add remaining ingredients, mix well, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until squah is soft. Smash ingredients together with a fork or a potato masher. Simmer until ready to eat. Serve warm.

We like to eat this with rice, Roti (Naan), daal, and curried lamb. If you're a vegetarian, omit the lamb, and serve more of the veggies. Boy, it's yummy. Good luck.

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