is around the corner (trust me it’ll creep up on you really fast, so you better have your gifts ready
), and I like to add a little Indian flair to my Christmas Eve dinner. Ok, I’m obviously not Christian, but being born and brought up in Staten Island
, I can say I know a thing or two about Christmas festivities and how important it is, religiously speaking. However, I tend to use Christmas as an excuse to indulge in food and gifts- yes, I’m still a child and there is NO shame in that! For some reason squash reminds me of the holidays- maybe because it’s all over the supermarket in ridiculous quantities and they’re pretty cheap! Just look how cheap you can get some Acorn Squashes at Freshdirect
averaging around $1.24 for 1! While using this inexpensive vegetable, I decided to put my Indian twist on Stuffed Acorn Squash
I roast the squash with some masalas, scoop it out and toss it with Spicy Biryani
along with cashews and saffron. It has the perfect winter touch with warm flavors of clove, cardamom, cinnamon and spicy masalas- it’s sure to keep you cozy on a cold snowy day! Biryani by the way is a traditional spicy-roasted basmati rice
, served in different varieties across India. It comes in Chicken & Lamb Biryani, but we’re not too concerned with that here
. Actually, Wikipedia
has a pretty good definition of it! Did I mention this dish is Vegan
– yes, I know amazing! So why don’t we get started on my Indian inspired Christmas dish
Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Vegetable Biryani:
- 4 acorn squashes cut in half, gutted
- 1/2 cup basmati rice soaked in water
- 1 cup water
- 2-3 tbsp garam masala (click for a homemade recipe or store-bought is fine)
- 1 medium red onion- diced
- 3-4 small sweet peppers- diced
- handful cashew nuts– chopped a bit
- pinch of saffron
- handful cilantro– finely chopped
- 3-4 tbsp biryani paste- recipe BELOW (or store-bought)
- 1 medium onion- cut into thick slices (garnishing)
- salt to taste
- coarse black pepper
- PAM original flavor
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet place the squash halves, spray with PAM and sprinkle with 1-2 tbsp garam masala. Place in the oven and BROIL till tender and charred- about 10-15 minutes.
2. While the squashes are roasting, in a large skillet, spray with PAM and add vegetable oil and set over medium heat. Add the cashews and saute until fragrant and slightly darkened. Add onions and peppers, sprinkle with black pepper and saute until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
Once the onions and peppers are soft, but now brown, add the soaked basmati rice (make sure not to get any water in it!). Saute for 5-7 minutes. You want to toast the the rice.
3. Remove the squash from the oven and cool for a few minutes before handling. Score the squash into small cubes, WITHOUT cutting through the skin. Scoop the cubes out into a bowl and set aside. Keep the shell aside, DON’T throw out!
4. Once the rice is toasted add 1 cup of water, pinch of saffron, cover and cook on medium-low heat, about 15 minutes. You want the rice to be cooked thru, not mushy so don’t mix it around too much! Once the rice is cooked, add the cubed squash, tossing gently (you don’t want the squash to break and mush around the rice). Add the Biryani paste and toss to coat. Mix in 3/4 of the chopped cilantro. Taste for salt and biryani flavor- it should be strong, spicy and aromatic.
5. In a small skillet, spray with PAM and set over medium-high heat. Add onion slices, and saute without breaking up the circles. Cook until brown-ish about 4-5 minutes. Set aside.
6. Fill each squash bowl with rice, just coming over the top. Top each one with an onion round and sprinkle with remaining chopped cilantro. Serve with yogurt or raita.
- 1 medium white onion- diced
- 1 beefsteak tomato- diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic- crushed and minced (click HERE for amazing garlic tips!)
- 2 tbsp ginger- freshly grated (need help Tackling Ginger?)
- 1 tbsp chili powder (it should be spicy!)
- handful chopped cilantro
- 4-5 hefty tbsp Biryani paste (I use Patak’s Brand)
- PAM original flavor
- 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1. In a medium skillet, spray with pam, add oil and set over medium-high flame. Add onions and tomatoes, saute until golden-brown about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chili powder and cilantro. Saute until vegetables are soft and fragrant about 4-5 minutes. Add the biryani paste and mix well, making sure all the veggies are coated. Remove from the heat and let cool (10-15 minutes).
2. In a grinder/food processor, add the biryani mixture and grind until smooth (slightly chunky is ok). Store in an air tight container. Can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 weeks, or in the freezer- for a while!
Makes about 1/2-1 cup
Can’t Get Enough Healthy Vegan? Check these out:
Tandoori Tofu Masala “Salad”
Spicy Cumin Potatoes with Green Chili Tofu
Indian Sloppy Joe (Pav Bhaji)
Baked Sweet & Spicy Sweet Potato Fries
Idli & Vada (South Indian Delight)
Creamy Maharashtrian Chole