If you grew up in India there is a strong chance you encountered foods which fit into the "fasting" category. And yes by fasting, I refer to the tradition of staying away from food, which is normally practiced for detoxification for spiritual or religious reasons. So how can the act of fasting spawn off an entire sub-cuisine? I am not sure but what a fantastic idea! The idea is you don't eat food which you would eat regularly but instead eat something which is officially made for a fast. These foods are always vegetarian and made without ginger, garlic and onions. Green chillies and peanuts are star ingredients in the Maharashtrian versions of these.
Just like in this extremely tasty dish called "batata kees" which roughly translates to shredded potatoes (kind of like hash browns) cooked with ground peanuts and green chillies. This has been a long time favorite for both A and me so I must admit he was a little worried when I decided to give it a twist by substituting the much loved but carbalicious potato with a healthier spaghetti squash. I oven roasted the squash and then scraped it to get the thin spaghetti-like strands. I cooked these exactly like the shredded potatoes in the kees recipe. And the results? Good enough to fast for!
The next time you are in Bombay stop by Prakash in Shivaji Park, a local institution for the best fasting (and not-meant-for fasting) Maharashtrian foods. Their sabudana vadas (sago/potato fritters), batata vadas (battered potato fritters) and misal (spicy sprouts gravy with all sorts of goodies) are worth the trans-atlantic flight!
1 medium sized spaghetti squash (I used half of a really large one)
3/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
3-4 small green chillies or 1 large jalapeno (or more depending on preferred spice level)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
chopped cilantro for garnish
yogurt to serve with
- Preheat oven to 350K and split the squash vertically in the middle.
- Put cut sides down in a oven proof dish with a little bit of water.
- Bake for 30 mins or till the squash is tender. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
- When its cool enough to handle scrape the insides with a fork to form thin spaghetti like strands.
- Coarsely grind peanuts and green chillies together.
- Add the peanut mixture to the squash along with salt and mix well.
- In a non-stick pan, heat butter and when hot add cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for a few seconds before adding the squash mixture.
- Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
- Top with some chopped cilantro, extra peanuts if required and serve with a dollop of yogurt.
Makes 4 side servings.