You know when you go to see a movie which claims “Based on a novel by…” and find it has only vague similarities in common with the book? This recipe turned out sortof like that. It is based on a recipe entitled “Snake squash stuffed with spicy potatoes in a tomato-herb sauce” in “Classic Indian Vegetarian Cooking” by Julie Sahni (a book which I highly recommend). Due to a combination of laziness and available ingredients, I’ve significantly changed the recipe. Here’s an account of my version:
First of all, hollowing out a squash sounded like an awful lot of work, so I thought I’d use a pumpkin instead. (My mother grows large quantities of squash and pumpkins and I’m living with my parents for the next few months, so I’ll probably be doing a lot of pumpkin and squash experiments). Having done that I decided to add some leftover squash from the other day to the mix, as the recipe called for using the meat of the hollowed out squash in the filling. Then I changed some other things as well, just ’cause I could. This is how it went.
What I used:
One medium small pumpkin.
About 20 smallish potatoes.
Two large red onions.
Two large tomatoes.
About a third of a smallish sweet squash (I’ll try to find out the type later).
One fresh chilli
Dried powdered chilli
What I did:
I took the pumpkin, cut a hole in the top and scooped out the insides like I was making a Jack o’ lantern. Make sure you cut a large enough hole – I didn’t, and this was irritating. While this was happening I put the potatoes on to boil, cooking them until they were just slightly undercooked.
Note: I don’t skin potatoes. I believe it to be a cruel and evil thing to do to an innocent vegetable. Also it’s boring.
This done I started making the Massala, frying the onion (reasonably finely chopped) with a little cumin, a lot of mustard seeds about one and a half tsp of salt and a tbsp of sugar. After 5-10 minutes frying I added the powdered spices. Another 5 minutes later I added the squash and chilli, continued frying for another 5 minutes and added the potatoes. Midway through this I realised the pan I had was way too small and transferred to a bigger one. Oops.
After about 5 minutes frying the potatoes I chopped up the tomatoes and added them to the mix. Another five minutes and I added a little boiling water to prevent things from burning, a dash of balsamic vinegar and about a tablespoon of molasses. I mixed it all up, let it cook for another minute and then transferred it to the pumpkin, covering it with the ‘lid’ of the pumpkin.
Now to prepare the pumpkin for roasting. I coated it with oil, wrapped it in tin foil and stuck it on a baking tray. I then put it in the oven at a high temperature for about an hour and a half. The aga had lost a lot of heat though, so in a normal oven an hour would probably suffice.
To serve I openend up the foil, cut away at the top a bit to get better access to the insides (if you cut a big enough hole in the first place you won’t need to do this) and scraped at the insides of the pumpkin to mix them with the filling.
I served this with pita bread and Dal.
Wow. This was great. I highly recommend it. It was a lovely combination of sweet and spicy, and the pumpkin gave off a lot of juice which made the filling (which was already moist) into a really nice stew.
I’m not sure if the foil was entirely neccesary. The pumpkin gave off an awful lot of juice, and seemed to be more steamed than roasted. This produced a nice effect, but most of the moisture would probably still be there if I hadn’t done it – the pumpkin was literally swimming in it at the end – and the pumpkin flesh would have acquired a nice roast flavour. It’s something worth bearing in mind for future versions. Also, the potatoes could have used being cooked a little more before hand. This may have been a product of the oven losing heat.
Other things to try in future: Some sort of bean, both for flavour and for protein, would be a nice addition to the filling. Also I think sultanas would go well in it. It might need a bit more salt, but then I always think recipes could use more salt (and rarely add more salt to them because I know I’ll oversalt them when eating anyway).
Random note: Every single vegetable in this dish was grown by us. Not that I can take a lot of credit for this myself, but it was still nice.