Do try this distinctive vegetarian, vegan and gluten free dish with the flavors of Maharashtra, India.
A new Thai place opened in our town recently, so of course we had to go check it out, right? I ordered a curry dish which had kabocha squash in it. This was my introduction to this unique, nutty tasting squash. The flavor of this squash lingers on the tongue and has a pleasant aftertaste.
So, the next time I wanted to make Thai curry at home, I got the kabocha squash. My husband does not share my enthusiasm for this squash, so I mixed it with our other favorite veggies in the Thai curry.
The squash has a thick skin that is hard to cut through, but the skin does not have to be removed, as it is soft when cooked and helps the squash retain its shape.
Even though I got the smallest kabocha squash, I had 4 cups of the squash pieces leftover. So, I decided to try the bakar bhaji from the state of Maharashtra, well known for its scrumptious masala.
Masala is a combination of spices. In this case the masala for the bakar is made with roasted dry coconut, peanuts, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and spices.
Tamarind pulp and jaggery balance the sour and sweet, making it one delectable vegetable dish to enjoy! This recipe makes sure you have plenty of the distinctive masala gravy to dunk your chapati bread into or have it with the rice.
Curried Kabocha Squash/ Maharashtrian Bakar Bhaji
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons dry shredded coconut
- ½ teaspoon paprika or Kashmiri chili powder
- 2 tablespoon peanuts. I used the dry roasted, skinned peanuts.
- 1 teaspoon oil
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds/ methi seeds
- ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon asafetida powder/hing
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder (or to taste)
- 4 (8 oz.) cups of kabocha squash pieces. I cut them into 1-inch pieces with the skin
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups of hot water
- 2 teaspoons goda masala
- 2 teaspoons tamarind pulp
- 2 teaspoons jaggery powder
To make the Curried Kabocha Squash/ Maharashtrian Bakar Bhaji
- Dry roast the poppy seeds, sesame seeds separately on low heat until you smell the aroma, about 1~2 minutes. Remove from pan. Add the coconut and dry roast it. Add the paprika, stir for 30 seconds, and remove. If using unroasted peanuts, roast them separately. Combine all roasted ingredients. Let the mixture cool.
- Pound the mixture with a mortar and pestle or grind in a dry grinder. Set aside.
- In a sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the fenugreek/methi seeds. They will turn a rosy color and you will smell the aroma of the methi. Then add the mustard seeds, let them splutter and add the asafetida/ hing, turmeric and chili powders. Stir 30 seconds and add the squash pieces.
- Add the hot water and salt to taste. Let it come to a boil, then cover and let it cook on low heat for 5 minutes or until the squash is cooked and tender, but not mushy.
- Uncover, add the goda masala, tamarind pulp and jaggery , stir and simmer for a minute to assimilate flavors.
- Serve with chappatis or rice and dal.
Once you taste this curried squash/ pumpkin, you will know why it is such a popular dish from Maharashtra, India.
Enjoy! Have a great weekend!