Ramadan cooking day 18

Assalamu’ Aleikum to everyone 🙂

Yesterday my mother bought me a butternut squash and today my brother brought it over to my home. So I decided to see what kind of Indian dishes incorporate squash/gourd vegetables and fell upon a traditional dish belonging to the Telugu style of cooking called ‘Sorakaya Pappu.’ Sorakaya means bottle gourd in the Telugu language, which by the way is the fourth most spoken language on the entire subcontinent, trailing Hindi, Bengali, and Punjabi. Pappu means Dal, and dal is the hindi word for lentil. So the name Sorakaya Pappu basically means bottle gourd lentil.

As usual I followed my favorite chef Sanjay Thumma on one of his YouTube videos but I also checked out some other Youtubers and their versions of the dish and then set out to cook my own. The butternut squash is not native to India and thus is not typically used in Indian cooking but that is the beauty of Indian cooking, it can turn any vegetable into an exquisite piece of art.

So I started off by putting in some black mustard seeds in hot oil (South Indian cooking relies heavily on mustard seeds) followed by whole red chilies, fennel seeds (since i did not have any cumin seeds) and hing powder. Fennel seeds give a slightly sweet aroma which in the end matched well with the sweet flavor of the butternut squash.
After letting them fry for a short while, I then sauteed some chopped red onion until the pieces became translucent, during which I also added a pinch of turmeric and a handful of pink salt. This was followed by the butternut squash that I had chopped into small pieces.
I fried the squash for a little while, added a considerable amount of Kashmiri red chili powder, added some Tamarind water, and then put in some fresh water and let the dish boil for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Once the pieces of squash had become tender, I transferred the dal that i had boiled (Majority Masoor dal/pink lentils and minority Sabut masoor dal/brown lentils) into the dish and then cooked the mixture together for a little while more.

The final step was to make a Tadka. A Tadka is a technique used all over India wherein whole spices and spice powders are fried in very hot oil or ghee. In this way, all the aromas are released from the spices. In my Tadka I put in some more mustard seeds, red chilies, hing powder, and some curry leaves. Once i had poured my Tarka over the Sorakaya pappu, the dish was ready. And, so was my iftar 🙂

I served it to my mom and little brother together with plain white basmati rice, and the breads puri and roti. The dish had some similarities to the Sambar I had made two nights earlier, but I enjoyed this dish more. The squash was very flavorful and sweet and it felt like it not only filled up my stomach but my soul as well.

So, my last two iftars have been south Indian iftars and they have not disappointed. Sambar from Kerala and Sorakaya pappu from Andhra Pradesh. Which Indian state will I choose for my next Iftar meal? Stay tuned 🙂

God bless and continue to enjoy your Ramadan ❤


Ramadan Cooking Day 16

Assalamu Aleikum! 🙂

Hope that you all are having a pleasant and happy Ramadan, In Sha Allah.

So today I decided to cook a South Indian dish for Iftar, something that I have never done since up until now I have only focused myself on cooking North Indian dishes, mainly from the Uttar Pradesh region. Indian food, whether it be from the North or South, is especially perfect for the holy month of Ramadan because it is light and easy while still full of all the essential nutrients that are needed for feeling energetic and positive throughout the long fasting days. (Side note: I live in Stockholm and the fast lasts about 20 hours)

The dish that I decided to cook is called Sambar. The word sambar (old Tamil:Champaar – சாம்பார்) stems from Tamil word Champaaram (சம்பாரம்) meaning “spicy condiments”. Thus, the dish, at least when made in India, tends to be spicy. A sambar is basically a stew that is based on a broad range of mixed vegetables and daals (lentils). I did not have access to all the traditional vegetables used back in India so I improvised and used aubergines, carrots, tomatoes, onions, garlic, turnip, and string beans.

What gives the dish its unique taste is the mix of both Tamarind water and coconut milk. Tamarind and Coconut are staple ingredients of South Indian cuisine.
Mixed together with whole red chilies, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds, turmeric powder, red chili powder, asafoetida (hing powder), brown sugar, whole black peppercorns, curry leaves, salt, and store bought MDH Sambar Masala, the taste of dish reminds one of a typical Thai curry dish with an Indian twist.
My taste buds tell me that Sambar is 100% Indian but that if served in Thailand it would somehow blend in with the rest of the cuisine. Anyhow, a spicy tropical dish that warmed my heart for Iftar. I also made rice, chapattis, and what i call “Flat batura”, similar to the normal puffed up batura. Batura is a North Indian bread that is usually served with the Punjabi dish Chana Masala.

So dear friends, remember to eat healthy, drink plenty of water, and have fun in your kitchens during this blessed month.

God bless ❤