The day before the Sankranthi festival is celebrated as the “Bhogi Festival”. I am really not sure what it signifies, I must try to find out when I go to Bengaluru next time. I do know Sankranthi is a celebration of the new harvest for the year.
Every year for Bhogi, my Mother makes a dry curry from Sweet Pumpkin. It is a tradition of this particular festival. Sweet Pumpkins are given as an offering along with other things like new Jaggery, rice, dals, etc to elders. The other tradition is to eat at least one dish made of sweet pumpkin. I am not a big fan of certain vegetables like Squash, Sweet pumpkin, Chayote, even string beans. I always thought these vegetables were extremely boring, any way they were cooked.
Roasted Kabocha Squash was a hit dish on Television and in all the food magazines and in almost all the cooking blogs I used to follow a few years ago. That was when I thought I would like to give it a try and see how it tasted, as it was very easy to make. A Kabocha squash, looks like a Sweet Pumpkin, but is actually a squash. Now what is the difference between a Pumpkin and a squash, you might ask, this is what I found-
“Pumpkins, squash and gourds are members of the enormously diverse Cucurbitaceae family, which contains more than 100 genera and over 700 species. They have been providing mankind with food and utilitarian objects since before recorded history. Various members of the genusCucurbita are known as squash or gourds.
Names differ throughout the world, but in the United States, any round, orange squash used for pies or jack-o-lanterns is likely to be called a pumpkin. But the term “pumpkin” really has no botanical meaning, as they are actually all squash. Squash are divided into two categories: tender or summer squash, and hard-skinned or winter squash. Examples of summer squash include zucchini, pattypan, straightneck, crookneck and other types. Winter squash include small to medium hard-skinned squash such as the acorn, small hubbard, miniature pumpkin and spaghetti types, as well as the large hard-skinned types, including banana, butternuts, cheese pumpkins, cushaws, and large hubbards, among others.
Botanists use distinctive characteristics of leaves, seeds and fruit stalks to classify the different species. The origins of these species are lost in time, but all are assumed to have originated in the Western Hemisphere, principally South and Central America and Mexico. Variety selection for the many distinct shapes, sizes and colors has occurred in all cultures worldwide.”
Coming back to my side of the story, the Kabocha has a very sweet flesh and the skin is also edible. I like baking the peel also, as it crisps up perfectly and tastes really nice. This recipe is very easy to make and baking the Squash does not make the squash soft and squishy. In case you are wondering what a Kabocha looks like, here goes-
- 1 small Kabocha Squash- cut into 1 inch cubes( A good Chef’s knife comes in really handy for cutting)
- Cumin Powder- 2 Tsps
- Jaggery or brown sugar- 2 Tsps
- Amchoor Powder- 1 Tsp ( Drizzle lemon juice after baking, if Amchoor is not available.)
- Chilli Powder- Depending on how hot it is, 1/4 to 1/2 Tsp
- Salt- to taste
- Extra Virgin Olive oil- 2 Tbsp
Heat the Oven to 375 Degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together the ingredients in a bowl and toss the Kabocha pieces, such that they are well coated with the mixture. Spread out on a Silica sheet, in a single layer. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or till the skin of the Kabocha is crisp.
Serve hot as a side dish with hot Rice and Rasam or with Chapathis.