Butternut Squash is a very new veggie to me, and I had come across it only after moving to the US. I had already tried a butternut squash soup and loved its sweet and mellow flavor. The most common recipe I have seen for butternut squash apart from soup is in a risotto. I wanted to try it too…but decided on putting an Indian spin to it. The closest thing that comes to the Italian risotto, on the Indian menu is ‘Pongal’. The creamy texture the Italians claim to love in risotto is matched in the flavors of pongal, thanks to the moong dal that is added.
You could make the pongal, sweet or savory, but I made a sweet version, so that I could feed it to my toddler son. I first roasted the butternut squash in the oven, coss I believe the roasting brings out the sugars in the butternut squash, accentuating the sweetness of the pongal. If you would like to, you may just grate the raw butternut squash and cook it along with the rice and dal.
1 cup sona masoori rice
1/2 cup moong dal
1 1/4 cup jaggery, grated
1 small butternut squash(approx. 1 lb)
1 tbsp cashews
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp ghee
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Soak the rice and dal with enough water to cover for about 15 minutes.
Cut the butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds using a spoon. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, until soft, when pierced with a knife. Let cool. Scoop the flesh out of the butternut squash. Discard the outer skin.
(NOTE: Don’t throw away the seeds of the squash, it is very tasty, toasted and sprinkled with some chaat masala. To get the stringy stuff and the seeds separated, place in a bowl of water. The seeds float up and the stringy goop settles at the bottom. Rinse the seeds, pat dry and roast in the same oven for 10 minutes, drizzle with some olive oil. Toss with some chaat masala and enjoy!)
Pressure cook the soaked rice and dal adding 4 cups water. Dissolve the jaggery in half cup of water and bring to a boil. Stir until the jaggery dissolves. Switch off stove, pass this jaggery water through a sieve, to get rid of any impurities. Bring the filtered jaggery water to a boil again. Let it simmer over medium heat until thick and sticky. Add the jaggery syrup and the roasted squash to the cooked rice and dhal. Stir to combine over medium heat, until the mixture gels together and thickens, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the cardamom powder.
In a seperate pan, heat the ghee, fry the cashews and raisins in the ghee and add it to the pongal. Serve hot!
Verdict: Sweet and creamy, this is not only a tasty meal, but a nutritious one too. The moong dal adds protein, the jaggery iron and the butternut squash, plenty of veggie goodness. Sweet, but still healthy.
Sending this to ‘Only – Original Recipes’ Event hosted by Nivedita and concept by Pari.