With the arrival of fall, not only come Halloween, Thanksgiving (and my birthday), but also glorious squashes! I don’t know too many people who would pass on a well-prepared butternut squash dish.
Versatile in so many ways: you can eat squashes raw by shredding them into salads, fry them up, batter them like Tempura, roast them in the oven, or puree them and mash them like potatoes.
Butternut squashes are a prized vegetable in Persian cuisine. They are often pan-fried and added to a variety of stews, ranging from tangy to sweet. They can be accompanied by anything from yellow split peas to Persian golden plums, and of course, lamb, beef or chicken.
If you can put it in a stew, you can make a Kuku out of it too!
In this dish, the butternut squash is cooked gently and various warming spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and cumin are added. Eggs and caramelized onion are then added to create a soft batter-like consistency that is then bound by rice flour. The result: naturally sweet and creamy savory Kuku pieces that are sure to be a winner at any table, and more specifically at Thanksgiving dinners!
Kuku kadu halva-ee
- 1 medium sized butternut squash (about 4 cups), peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, ground
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, ground
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 cup rice flour, or more as needed
- 2 tablespoons whole milk yogurt, Greek or Labneh
- 2 eggs
- Place the cut butternut squash in a medium sized pan, add 2 cups of water, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cook covered for 15 minutes.
- The butternut squash should be softened but still have some texture. Drain and set aside.
- In a frying pan, saute the onions with 2 tablespoons olive oil for 15 minutes over medium flame until golden brown.
- Add salt, pepper and the remainder of the spices and stir for an additional minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a food processor, combine the squash, walnuts, onions, rice flour and yogurt and process until you have a creamy mixture.
- Add the eggs and pulse until the eggs have been well integrated into the squash mixture.
- Assess the consistency of the batter and add more rice flour as needed. The batter should not be runny like a pancake, instead should feel thick and sticky to so that you would need an ice cream scoop to form them into a patty.
- Heat the remaining 6 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan.
- Using an ice cream scoop or a large spoon, pull out enough dough to place in the frying pan. Gently press on the batter to flatten and cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes on one side before flipping them over. Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes. Both sides should have turned golden brown.
- Serve kuku with steamed basmati rice or a variety of Persian flat breads accompanied by fresh herbs or Shirazi salad (see notes).