Acorn Squash, Des Moines Squash and Pepper Squash are just some of the names for this delectable winter vegetable on today's menu. I've chosen to go with the most common name associated with it and name my dish Acorn Squash Curry. Based on an article in Cuisineathome.com by Stephanie Fink great mystery surrounds the exact origins of this vegetable. However, despite the many stories in circulation regarding this seasonal veggie, Ms. Fink concludes that this is indeed a Native American plant.
Indigenous to Central and North America, Acorn Squash is actually part of the summer squash family. Milder in taste and more fibrous in texture than butternut squash, this is a great addition to any menu. There are many ways to cook the squash; bake it, steam it, saute it or stuff it with your favorite filling but my favorite is Acorn Squash Curry.
The Pumpkin we eat in Pakistan is a little different in taste and texture than the one that's grown in the USA. The Pakistani variety known as Kadu is a winter vegetable I love. Growing up I mainly ate it as a dessert called Pethay Ka Halwa. One year on a visit to my parents my mother presented it to me as a spicy vegetable to be eaten with naan or roti and I loved it.
After a few poor attempts at making the halwa with a pumpkin purchased at Walmart I soon realized this wasn't the vegetable of my childhood. Some research and a little experimentation led me to Acorn Squash. The halwa turned out perfect and the curry is even better! The spices enhance the natural sweet taste of the acorn squash and the result is a gastronomic delight!
Picking The Right Squash
The ideal acorn squash is about 1-2 pounds in weight and 4-7 inches in length. The smaller the vegetable, the more likely it is to be sweeter and juicier. A dark green color with a few flecks of orange on the skin is a fresh and ripe squash. Too much orange indicates an overripe vegetable and the likelihood of gray, moldy seeds on the inside of one is high. The inside of the squash should be a nice golden yellow when you cut into it, similar to that of a pumpkin, as both belong to the same family.
Prepping The Squash
Acorn squash is fairly perishable so it's best to buy one and cook it soon. Refrigerating the squash causes chill damage and leaving it on the counter can cause it to rot. This honestly applies to most vegetables as I've mentioned in my Achari Pickled Turai recipe.
My go to method is to prep and air fry my vegetables before cooking them. This makes for better flavor, faster cooking and also allows you to prep and store the vegetables ahead of time. I usually do this the day I purchase my produce and then refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 6 weeks if I can't cook them right away. The actual curry doesn't take much time and if your squash is ready to add in you can have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes.
Cooking The Squash
Air Fryers are an amazing gadget to have on hand for cooking vegetables. Since the cooking is done at a high temperature, the vegetables cook quickly and retain a lot of their juiciness. Very little oil is needed so if you're trying to watch those calories you're in luck!
Stove top cooking for curries is time consuming and often causes veggies to water a lot. In the case of delicate vegetables such as squashes, this leads to a mushy texture. If you don't have an air fryer, bake the squash in an oven as per instructions in the note below.
Air Frying/Baking the Squash
Cooking the Curry
Acorn Squash Curry
- 1 whole acorn squash
- 4 tbsp cooking oil
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp white cumin seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 whole tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp amchur powder
- ½ cup cilantro
- Peel the squash, deseed and cut into small cubes
- Massage with 1 tablespoon of oil and air fry for 15 minutes at 350°(Read notes for more info)
- Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a cooking pot and saute the garlic, fenugreek, cumin and mustard seeds for about 1 minute.
- Add the diced tomatoes, red chili powder, salt and turmeric and saute for 30 seconds.
- Add the 1 cup of water, cover and cook on medium for 10 minutes to cook the tomatoes.
- Uncover and add the cooked squash and cook till liquid is dry (Read notes for more info)
- Stir at the end to mix and add the amchur powder and cilantro and serve
- Preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes before cooking the squash. If you don't have an air fryer, bake the squash in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
- Stirring the squash too much creates a mash. The purpose of adding the squash to the liquid is to infuse it with the flavor of the spices. A final stir once the liquid is almost dry is usually sufficient.
Hope you decide to try this Acorn Squash Curry! Don't forget to leave a rating and comment below!