When confronted with a massive 5.5 pound butternut squash that Andy bought from the farmers market, I knew I would have to get creative.
In addition to making the Butternut Squash Soup that the squash purchase was intended for, I decided that I would have enough leftover squash for two more dishes. As I was thinking about potential recipes, my mind almost immediately went to trying a pulusu, or Andhra Pradash stew that incorporates a variety of flavoring ingredients, notably tamarind to achieve a signature sweet and sour flavor. I have never made a pulusu - which my mother has described correctly as an advanced form of cooking - and I thought that given that I basically had the ingredients at home, why not try?
Thankfully, this first attempt was a complete success. I seemed to use just the right combination of tamarind, brown sugar and other flavoring ingredients to produce a sweet, yet slightly sour and spicy dish that was perfect for a simple dinner party one night. I put together the recipe using my mother's suggestions, a Cook's Illustrated technique, and Saranya Mandava's ubiquitous cookbooks (this time, the newer Millenium Mixture book). The recipe follows the picture of the completed picture below.
Butternut Squash Pulusu (or Gummadikai Pulus)
- One small butternut squash, or approx. 1 pound butternut squash, skin and seeds removed, cut into 3/4 inch to 1/2 inch square pieces
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- 5 - 7 dried fenugreek seeds
- 2 tbsp. tamarind paste
- 2 tsp. chili powder (to taste though)
- 1 tsp. mustard seeds
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- Place butternut squash pieces into microwave-safe dish with a few tablespoons of water, cover, and microwave for 5 minutes. Stir, and then microwave another 5 - 8 minutes or until the butternut squash can be easily pierced with a knife.
- As the butternut squash is cooking, heat vegetable oil in a small pot on medium heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. After they become fragrant, add the garlic and saute until garlic is softened (approximately 1 minute).
- Add the onion and cook until translucent.
- Add the butternut squash, approx. 1 tsp. salt, 1 cup of water, and chili powder (starting with 1 tsp.), and stir mixture such that the butternut squash gets coated with the spices.
- After a 4 - 5 minutes, add the tamarind paste, brown sugar, and water as necessary to keep the mixture as more of a stew than dry curry.
- Cook for approximately 7 - 10 minutes or until the butternut squash is completely cooked, and the flavors have absorbed. Add more salt and chili pepper to taste.