Thursday, February 14, 2013

Butternut Squash with Nigella seeds

Butternut squash is not commonly paired with nigella seeds except in Bengali cuisine where butternut squash is one of the vegetables of a melange and nigella seeds is one of the spices which make up the traditional Bengali panch phoron or five spice mixture. And Nigella seeds is also not commonly used in cooking except in Bengali cuisine as well. The Turkish use it in flavoring the çörek buns. Such braided-dough buns are widespread in the cuisines of Turkey and its neighbors. In Bosnia it is used to flavor pastries often baked on Muslim religious holidays.The flavor of the Nigella seed is described as smoky and peppery. They impart a flavor combination reminiscent of oregano, black pepper and onion.

But this combination of butternut squash, nigella seeds, and caramelized onions, to enhance the onion flavor of the seeds are a perfect match. The dry red chili gives a little kick to offset the sweetness of the squash and the onions. This dish is great as a spread for an appetizer plate or as a side dish as part of a multi-course meal. Works well spread on to bruschetta or pita toasts.

Butternut Squash with Nigella Seeds

1 cup, finely chopped yellow onion
3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (1/2 inch cubes)
1/4 teaspoon nigella seeds
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small dry red chili
  1. Heat a 3 qt saucepan over medium heat with 1 tablespoon canola oil and add the nigella seeds and the  dry red chili. Saute for 30 seconds and then add the chopped onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Continue to cook for 2 minutes till the onion is slightly translucent.
  2. Add the cubed butternut squash and cook uncovered over medium heat for 5 minutes. Toss the mixture around and then cook covered over medium low heat for 5 minutes. Remove the cover and toss again, check the salt - add if necessary. Then replace the cover and cook for a further 5 minutes till the squash is done.
Serves 3 to 4

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