Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cooking for my father: a recipe for butternut squash curry

My father's visit, October 2009.

I'm a little late with posting because we had a visitor recently: my father. He was here for one very short, but lovely week. I don't see my family very often so, whenever it happens, I try to spend every minute that I can with them.

My father is the most emotionally collected person I know. He brings a sense of reason to every situation; nothing seems to faze him. And he always seems to be content with whatever he has and wherever he is at any given moment. Consequently, he is not the most adventurous type, preferring instead to keep his life simple and the way he has known it for years, in such ways as vacationing close to home, buying the same make of vehicle, and in his choice of clothing. It is the same with food. Trying to cook for him has always been a nervous endeavor on my part. My siblings and I think of him as a picky eater partly because he has always preferred the foods he grew up on. I think my mother and grandmother were the only people who got it right in his opinion. Or maybe he was just all too cautious about my sister's and my kitchen experiments. During my last trip to Trinidad, I remember preparing him a cup of tea the way he likes it: with sugar and milk (a legacy of the British) and yet, it wasn't good enough. And this was only tea, for crying out loud. Who gets tea wrong?

Needless to say, he took everyone by surprise with his recent interest in travel. Even more surprising was his changing attitude towards non-Caribbean food. His favorites are now Malaysian and Egyptian. Didn't see that coming. So, when he called to say that he would be visiting us this month, I was less nervous about cooking for him and more excited about having him try some of my new recipes and for him to understand and hopefully appreciate, my new approach to food. I had a couple recipes in mind - one I've made before (Maple Anise Braised Country Ribs) and a new one.

During the radio interview I had a couple weeks ago, Susan Berkson asked, "What would you cook with the vegetables available at the farmers' market this week?" I didn't hesitate for a second because I already had a plan for the season's most popular vegetable: squash. In particular, butternut squash - my favorite. Last year, I made Butternut Squash Creme Brulee practically every weekend for about two months. It has a smooth texture and is sweeter than most other squashes which worked well in that preparation. But this time, I was planning to make it into a curry, incorporating the flavors of onions, chili peppers and low fat coconut milk. More than that, however, I was planning to serve it to my father! Brave girl, that's me. I was thrilled that he enjoyed it and now that I know he is broadening his culinary horizons, I can't wait for his next visit to make some new recipes for him.

Butternut Squash Curry
Serves 4 to 5

1 butternut squash (peeled, seeded and cut into chunks)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp curry powder*
1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 cup low fat coconut milk
4 -5 jalepenos, sliced (optional)
1/2 cup green onions, chopped

1. Place a large dutch oven or other deep pot over medium heat and add the olive oil, followed by onion, garlic, and half of the jalepenos. Cook for about five minutes until the vegetables soften. Stir often to prevent burning. Add the curry powder, stir to combine, and cook for an additional minute.
2. Add the chunks of butternut squash and turn to coat thoroughly with curry mixture. Add the vegetable broth and coconut milk, cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes until the squash is soft but not mushy and the broth and coconut milk have made a thick sauce. Top with any leftover jalepenos and the green onions before serving.

*I use a curry powder blend common to the Caribbean, called Madras Curry. Other curry powders can also be used, such as the yellow curry blend sold in most spice or grocery stores.


Miranda said...

Yum. This curry looks unique and wonderful. I am sure your father loved it....

Heads up. I am hosting a giveaway at my site.

Jessie said...

simply delicious and very comforting. I am sure your father truly enjoyed it :)

Tasty Eats At Home said...

I am a huge fan of butternut, and this recipe really caught my eye. Yum. Will definitely have to make.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful curry, I love the addition of jalapeno!

Susan Berkson said...

Natasha, This looks delicious. I hope you had a giid visit with your Dad.

Anonymous said...

Yummm, congrats on his liking for new foods...

Sophie said...

What a yummie butternut squash curry!! I so love butternut squash!!!!

MMMMMMMMMMM,...Lucky father!

CaptnRachel aka Tha Pizza Cutta said...

I just bought my first curry powder and now I have the perfect recipe to use it. Thanks! Cheers!

Tangled Noodle said...

Curry has become a constant craving for us - it seems particularly perfect for this time of year. I've promised myself that this is the year that I will cook with more squash (and not just the summer squash) - butternut and kabocha are at the top of my list! How wonderful that your father came to visit and many thanks for this great recipe!

Sook said...

Oh boy I want this for dinner tonight! :)

Erica said...

What a delicious dish!Great flavors.