Butternut Squash & Coconut

I made this for lunch on a work day during lockdown and was very pleased with it. Vegetables are prepared this stir-fry style across south India and Sri Lanka – this type of dish is called thoran in Malayam, poriyal in Tamil or palya in Telugu, although there are subtle differences between the three. I bought a wonderful book called The Essential South Indian Cookbook by Srividhya Gopalkrishnan. She adds fresh ginger to the dish and while it’s frequently made with cabbage, she suggests making it with green beans, white radish, carrots or beetroot. I’ve also seen versions made with plantain.

Half a medium butternut squash

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon asafoetida

a pinch of chili, more if desired

a small handful of fresh curry leaves

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon salt

A handful of fresh or frozen grated coconut

1 green chili, finely chopped

  1. Peel the butternut squash and cut into medium sized cubes. You can steam or roast them. I got out my stack of steamer saucepans, using the heat from the pot of dal to steam the butternut squash above.
  1. Heat a tablespoon of oil over a medium heat and add the mustard seeds. When they start to crackle, add the curry leaves, then the turmeric, asafoetida and the coconut. Stir – to toast the coconut and to stop the spices sticking. Add in the butternut squash, chili and salt and stir to combine.