An Autumn-y Stew in Winter

Sometimes, all it takes

Is a warm squishy cube

of butternut squash

on a white plate and waiting

sweetly spiced from soaking

In an orange colored

soup that spills

Autumn in my mouth

I must be honest now. I am not a huge fan of sambhar. I have my feet firmly planted in the ‘Rasam’ camp. However there are two kinds of sambhar which can make me salivate and beg for more. One is the Arachuvittu Sambhar (literally meaning, ‘the grind and keep’ sambhar) which my mother makes a droolworthy version of. The other is the Bangalore/Udipi Sambhar that is my favorite accompaniment to the bondas, idlies and dosas served in the small ‘tiffin rooms’/darshinis all around Bangalore (And I am sure, the rest of Karnataka). This butternut squash sambhar, though not like either one of these, borrows elements from both. The shredded coconut used, is reminiscent of the arachuvittu kind of sambhar. The butternut squash and the jaggery/brown sugar give it something of the sweetness of the Udipi kind.

I don’t know when this became my go-to dish. I am sure a happy series of chance happenings and accidents must have resulted in my first successful version of this. And then when it pleased the palate of S’s aunt and uncle who visited us sometime ago , I assumed there must be something special about it that works.  And now when I make sambhar, I make only this version- It is tasty and more importantly extremely simple and quick.

Day 2: Butternut Squash Sambhar

You will need:

1 C of cubed butternut squash

2-3 tbs of shredded unsweetened coconut

1 C of masoor dal

1 tomato

a marble-sized ball of tamarind

2 tbs  of sambhar powder

2 tsp mustard seeds

Unrefined coconut oil (or any vegetable oil)

a pinch of turmeric

a pinch of asafoetida/hing

2 tsp of brown sugar/jaggery

salt to taste


Chop the tomatoes. Wash the masoor dal and cook,  along with the turmeric and hing, with 2 to 2 1/4  cups of water and the chopped tomato. I usually cook the dal in the microwave and it takes around 22 minutes.

Place the tamarind in 2 cups of warm water.

Heat the coconut oil and add the mustard seeds. Once the seeds are done spluttering, add 2 tbsps of the shredded coconut and roast for few secs and then quickly add the sambhar powder and let it roast for a few seconds.

Add the butternut squash and saute for a few minutes.

Extract the tamarind water, and pour it into the pot. Let this watery mix heat for 5 mins.

Add around 3-4 cups of water . After 5 minutes add the remaining shredded coconut.

Once the butternut squash is tender, add the cooked dal (around 2 cupc). Add salt to taste, and heat till it comes to a boil.

Add the brown sugar/jaggery according to taste.

Note: If the sambar powder is not spicy enough, you could add one red chilli during the tempering process.

And Done!

The best way to enjoy this sambhar is with rice, a small dollop of ghee, and papadam/appalam or banana chips.


  1. Pingback: A prosy Upma « Pieces of paper, squiggly lines

  2. B Dattatreyulu

    Mouth watering. I checked for butternut. It belongs to our “Kaddu” family. But one should be careful while peeling the skin. I read it gives allergy to hands for some people.

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