Sweet and sour butternut squash with ginger and chiles
In my grandmother's home in Delhi, guests would arrive begging to eat Panditji's preparation of this very simple and humble vegetable. His recipe, reproduced here, was fabled to be deliciously addictive, as you will soon discover. Kaddu is the Hindi word for the oblong Indian pumpkin. In America, I use butternut squash instead: it comes close enough in flavor and makes it unnecessary to go hunting for the real thing in Asian markets. The end result is a dish that is authentic in taste and just as beautifully orange. Try it with a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
1 2- to 2¼-pound butternut squash
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 fresh hot green chile, chopped
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon asfoetida (optional)
1½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
1½ teaspoons sugar
Juice of ½ lemon or lime, or 2 teaspoons dried mango powder (amchur)
  1. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Peel it with a vegetable peeler or a paring knife and scrape out the seeds.
  2. Cut the two halves lengthwise into ½-inch-thick strips. Then cut the strips crosswise into 1½-inch pieces.
  3. Heat the oil in a large wok, kadai, or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  4. Add the fresh chile, fenugreek, if using, cayenne, and asfoetida, if using, and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.
  5. Add the squash and stir to coat with the oil. Stir in the salt and sugar. Turn the heat down to medium. Cover and cook until the squash is tender, about 25 minutes. Uncover and stir the squash every 5 minutes and check on the cooking; if the spices begin to burn, turn the heat down. If the squash doesn't brown at all, turn the heat up slightly.
  6. Stir in the lemon or lime juice, or dried mango powder. Mash the squash with a spoon to break up some of the pieces.
  7. Taste for salt and serve hot.
Serves 4 to 6. From Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness.