I really love autumnal and winter vegetables, and one of my favourites is pumpkin. In West Bengal, it is a very popular dish, and there are plenty of different squashes all over India. But they are all very different from what we get in the UK.
When I was growing up in India, wasting food was not allowed and we had to eat everything. We didn’t waste pumpkins at Halloween and if we had anything left over it went into a soup or a lentil dish.
Panch phoron is usually used as a whole spice and originates in India. But you can also use it ground up in order to marinate meat or fish. I think it’s one spice that I can’t live without.
I recently went to America and taught a chef there how to use this spice and now they are starting to use it in their own cooking, which I’m so pleased about.
Here I have cooked butternut squash and pumpkin together with panch phoron.
Panch phoron butternut squash
If I were to be stranded on a desert island, but left with an endless supply of panch phoron I think I might just be OK. It’s a spice mix that is so perfect for pickling, making chutneys and cooking with.
4 tsp sunflower oil
2 tsp (equal quantity of nigella, fennel, cumin, mustard and fenugreek seeds)
2 tsp grated ginger
3 garlic cloves grated
50g butternut squash, peeled and diced into small chunks
50g pumpkin, peeled and diced into small chunks
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 green chilli chopped for decoration
1 tsp salt
Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over a medium heat. Once hot, add the seeds for the panch phoron. Once they start to sizzle, add the grated ginger and garlic and cook for another minute.
Add the diced butternut squash and pumpkin together with the chilli flakes and mix together well, add salt and then cook over a low heat for about 10-12 minutes, stirring regularly, until the squash and pumpkin is tender.
Add few drops of water if it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and serve immediately. If you haven’t got time to make your own chapatti just buy pitta bread, cut it into half and serve alongside the squash.
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