Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to tackle a kabocha squash

It's autumn!! Although Spring is my favorite time of the year in California, I have fond memories of fall on the east coast during my school years. The good thing about fall in California though is the coming of pumpkins and winter squashes in the markets. I have already tackled two kabocha squashes this season and one butternut squash. These will keep for a long time in a cool dark pantry, so it is not a bad idea to stock up.

The first time I tackled my kabocha squash, I used a lot of force and just cut it in to 2 halves with my Global chef's knife. Then placed them cut-side down in a baking dish with a little bit of water and baked at 400C for around 45 mins covered with foil.

Tough guy!

The second time around, my Global just refused to go through the kabocha. Maybe it was having an off day! So after struggling for a few minutes, I decided to bake it whole and see what happened. This is what I did:

  • Put a little water at the bottom of the baking dish
  • Prick the squash a few times with a fork
  • Place the squash in the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil
  • Bake at 400C for around 40 minutes

When I took the squash out, my knife went through it pretty easily. I cut it in to 4 pieces and placed it back in the over covered for another 10 minutes. I let it sit in the oven while it cooled.

After taking the squash out, I removed the seeds with my fingers and then cut it up in to pieces. Now it was ready for any recipe or to eat as is!!

The skin of the kabocha is very flavorful, and nutty. Though I sometimes remove the skin of butternut squash, I never do it for kabocha.

Here's my recipe for kabocha squash with lentils.

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • Cumin seeds (jeeragam) and Fennel seeds (sombu) for tempering
  • 5-6 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2-3 thai green chilies sliced in to half (depends on how hot you want it to be)
  • 1 inch piece of ginger grated
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes diced
  • 1 cup chana daal (yellow split peas) soaked and cooked until very soft
  • 1 large kabocha squash prepared as mentioned above
  • A few springs of cilantro finely chopped for garnish
  • salt to taste
Heat the butter and add the cumin and fennel seeds. Then add the garlic and after a minute, add the green chilies. Now add the diced tomatoes, cover and let it cook. When the tomatoes have cooked, add the grated ginger, stir and add the lentils and squash. Add salt to taste and let it simmer for a few minutes. Switch off the heat and garnish with chopped cilantro.

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