by Monica Kar and Vaidya Manohar, Vaidya for The Raj Ayurvedic Spa
- Acorn squash — choose one with mostly green skin
- Sesame oil
- Kalonji or onion seeds
- Cumin seeds
- A teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
- A pinch of asafetida — a little goes a long way
- Turmeric — a teaspoon
- Sea salt to taste
- A few black or brown mustard seeds
- A teaspoon of mango powder sold in Indian stores as "Amchoor" powder
- A teaspoon of pomegranate seeds sold in Indian stores as "Anardana"
- Cut acorn squash on a cutting board. It is tough to cut. I like to cut it lengthwise first, and then cut it in little pieces on the board after I take out the pulp and the seeds. Many people bake the seeds and enjoy them separately.
- In a wok, take sesame oil. If you are cooking for four people, you need only a big tablespoon of oil. Heat it on medium high.
- Add asafetida and mustard seeds until the seeds splutter. IMPORTANT: Mustard seeds should always splutter before you add any other spice or vegetable to them, or they make the dish too bitter to eat.
- As soon as they splutter, add the kalonji, cumin and fenugreek seeds. As soon as they start browning, lower the heat and add the acorn squash. You do not need to skin the squash, as the skin is quite tasty once cooked.
- Add salt and turmeric. Raise the heat to medium-high and "work" or stir the squash so all of it is covered by the oil and spices. The sound and the smell at this time are priceless — enough to take away the winter blues!
- Lower the heat to low and cover the wok. Let it cook and soften so that when you poke it with a fork, it goes ¾ of the way in. Uncover, add the mango powder and pomegranate seeds. Let cook for a few minutes more till they blend in. Turn off the heat.
This recipe can be used for pumpkin as well as butternut squash. Acorn is just a personal favorite!
Enjoy with hot chapattis and dhal! For recipes for both, see my earlier articles. Just by making a few subtle changes in your diet, you can be a friend of the seasons. Here's wishing you a sniffle-free winter, full of energy and immune strength. May your inner glow or "tej" radiate the world around you.