Monday, May 28, 2007

A pumpkin recipe, on request

Baakar Bhaaji

butternut squash bakar bhaji 1

A while back, gudy2shuz asked me if I had a recipe for 'lal bhoplyachi bakar bhaji' with sesame seeds and peanuts. She even offered me her aaji's (grandmother's) recipe, which was:
"you dice the pumpkin, roast together some dry coconut, khus khus, peanuts and sesame seeds. grind the stuff into a coarse powder. make a phodni of mustard seeds, hing and haldi, saute the pumpkin in it for a bit, cover and cook, then add the powder, some jaggery, red chilli powder and salt. garnish with coriander powder."
She added:
"its easy enough, but getting the mixture of sweet/spicy/nutty is at the heart of the puzzle."
In my mind, this was already good enough, but she wanted to know the precise proportions. I would have happily given them to her if only I knew how the result is supposed to taste like. Suddenly I felt quite responsible. I searched through some of my cookbooks to see if there was anything like that, and there wasn't. So the next thing was to search around the web, and I found Anita's recipe, which looked very close to what 'gudy' had described. To complete my quest, I checked with a friend if she knew something, and she said that she hadn't heard the term 'baakar bhaji', but there was a recipe in Ruchira that was very similar. Sure enough, it looked like it might be just the thing.

Since pumpkin season is well over now, I was skeptical about how the squash bought in a grocery store out of season would taste, because I have found that winter squashes bought at the local farmers' market are way superlative in taste compared to the others. I found a butternut squash that was grown in Mexico, because waiting until next fall would have been too long. Butternut squash is usually my first choice for making Indian sabjis that call for pumpkin. Acorn squash follows closely, because it also takes to spices very well.

The result was fantastic! I made a few changes to the original, like peeling the skin off instead of keeping it on, and reducing the amount of hing (1/2 teaspoon!). Here is the adapted recipe.

butternut squash bakar bhaji 2


500 gm butternut squash
3 Tablespoons khus khus (white poppy seeds)
3 Tablespoons dried grated coconut
3 Tablespoons charoli nuts (can use peanuts instead)
3-4 pieces of tamarind or 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
6 Tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 pinches of asafoetida
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon methi (fenugreek) seeds
3/4 teaspoon red chili powder
salt to taste
1-1/2 Tablespoon jaggery
3 teaspoons goda masala


Peel the butternut squash and chop it into large pieces, about 2 inches in length.

Dry roast the khus khus, coconut and nuts for a few minutes until they start to change color. Let it get cool, and grind to a powder. Make a solution with half cup of water and tamarind.

Heat the oil in a kadhai or wok, and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the asafoetida, turmeric, methi seeds, and the pieces of squash. Saute for a minute or two, and then cover with a lid for a few minutes or until the squash is almost done. Add 3/4th cup of water, and to it add the ground powder. Add red chili powder, salt, tamarind water, jaggery, and goda masala, and stir it so that all these ingredients form a sort of gravy. By then the squash should be fully cooked too. Best to serve with plain rotis, polis, or parathas.

Thanks gudy2shuz, for introducing me to a new dish which is so good that I will be definitely making it again.


bee said...

since i do not get dagadphool or nageshkar where i live, what do you recommend as a substitute for goda masala? i usually use a combo of sesame seeds, khus khus, a pinch of garam masala, dry roasted coconut and coriander seeds ground together. will that work?

Roopa said...

looks very delicious

Asha said...

Looks yum! I have my own Goda masala recipe,works well for me.I never adding to subzi though,just Misal.Thanks for this.

Richa said...

hey, bhaji looks amazing, great texture with all the yummy stuff going in, a must try :)
have never used charoli in a bhaji, use it only in basundi!

evolvingtastes said...

bee, here is a link to a recipe for goda masala which is very close to the Ruchira version. It does not need dagadphool and nagkesar.

Occasionaly, I have see goda masala in some Indian grocery stores too. It is also refered to as 'kALA' masala or black masala sometimes.

evolvingtastes said...

roopa, asha, richa,
thank you, thank you, thank you. :-)

Asha, goda masala is added to many vegetable dishes in marathi cooking. I could say it is the equivalent of using garam masala in Punjabi cuisine, but that would be such a cliche.

Richa, charoli in a vegetable dish was a first for me too.

gudy2shuz said...

hey thanks a ton! the exact thing i wanted, with all the proportions down as well. im sure i will be able to replicate aaji's bhaji now.

evolvingtastes said...

gudy, the pleasure was all mine! I really hope it turns out just as good for you.

Suganya said...

I make a curry with butternut squash with minimal seasoning. I was under the impression that the tender squash will not take so much spice. But yr recipe looks delicious.

evolvingtastes said...

Thanks Suganya. Most winter squashes are versatile because they taste great with almost no spice, but also hold their own in many spice laden Indian dishes as well. Not to forget that they can be turned into delicious desserts too.

bee said...

thanks for that great link. how do i address you? ET sounds strange. lol.

evolvingtastes said...

B, you can call me E. :-)
ET is fine too.

Anita said...

Hey, ET - just saw this incoming link thru Technorati... glad to have been of help with finding an 'old' recipe!

The hing that Maharashtrians use is very mild (it is mixed with flour). What you are using probably is pure hing, as is done in all of Northern India. And a good pinch of that is more than enough! ;-)

evolvingtastes said...

Hi Anita, I was using some really good quality Dehraduni hing up until now. I used it by the smidgen! It just got over, and I am back to the packaged stuff, but even then, I only use it in pinches. Half teaspoon would be way too much, I think.

The mild hing that you are referring to, I believe, is not a something "that maharashtrians use", (:-) I am smiling here, with an eyebrow raised) but is the type that is available everywhere commercially, right?

Anita said...

Sorry to get back here so late...lost the thread :-D

I had used (and seen) only the 'pure' hing till I got married, and saw my MIL use hing by spoonfuls! In South Indian recipes too I see hing measured in spoonfuls. So I can safely guess that most of Northern India uses the purer form...

I think if any recipe lists in spoon-measures it is using the milder kind. The stronger type, such as the Dehradooni you mention, will always be used in tiny pinches. In fact, the preferred way is to dissolve a small grain in water, and use the much diluted 'water' in spoonfuls in any recipe!

evolvingtastes said...

Anita, I think you are right that if the recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon then it must the milder variety. I don't recall which one was used at our home, but I do recall that we used it only by the pinch or roughly one tiny corner of a spoon. A teaspoon would be 5 ml!!

Do you put the diluted solution into a tadka? I used to grate the Dehraduni hing with a nutmeg grater, sometimes even straight into the tadka. I miss that hing *sniff*, and hopefully will find some good stuff when I travel home next.

Anita said...

Yes, the hing water is added to the tadka, and it makes quite the sizzle!

(and off topic, make the poori-bhaji. C'mon, be a sport! It's my first 'event'! :-D Kidding. I know how difficult it can be some days to even think about cooking - more so after a hard week's work.)

Home Mantra said...

Hi ET,

I am hosting Dish It Out - Squash N Sugar event on my little space.
Would love to see your squash /pumpkin recipes.


Home Mantra said...

Btw, I had never heard about bakar bhaji but looks very tempting. I am will try it :)

evolvingtastes said...

Radhika, thanks for your invitation! I am very busy for the next two weeks, and will not even cook very much during this time. I will however try and participate if I can after that.

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