Archive for November 1, 2007

Jihva Special Edition ~ Hubbard Squash Halwa

hubbard squash halwa
hubbard squash halwa for Diwali

Talented Vee of Past, Present, and Me is hosting not one but *two* Jihva events for autumn festival season: one for Navratri-Dassera and one for Diwali.
Together they are Jihva Special Edition: The Festive Series.

piece of hubbard squash
a brilliantly colored piece of hubbard squash

baked hubbard squash
baked hubbard squash

Because this squash is traditionally harvested in autumn, the time of harvest festivals, I thought it appropriate for the Jihva Festive Series.
Probably it should have been sent under Navratri-Dassera, but I’m late as usual, so I made the deadline for Diwali. Hope you don’t mind, Vee, and thanks for all your hard work! 🙂

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I’ve never made halwa.

I also haven’t had a piece of hubbard squash since I was a kid. Our neighbors used to grow this huge squash in their garden, and often the fruits would hang right down through the fence into our little backyard. The neighbors were a sweet elderly Italian couple — very old-world and generous to a fault.
I was only four or five but I still remember their amazing suburban garden complete with grape vines. Looking back, it was like a little slice of Italy just up the hill beyond the fence.

We never bought this squash. Someone like the neighbors or a grandmother grew it and hacked off a piece with an axe (yes, the rind was that hard), and shared it with us. Back then the skin was a blueish grey… nowadays I see it in orange skin as well. I saw a small-sized piece the other day, and thought to bake it for old time’s sake. The baked squash was so naturally sweet that I decided to use it to try my hand at halwa.

Hubbard Squash Halwa with Split Moong

1 small piece hubbard squash (about 8 oz or enough for 1 1/2c mashed)

1/4 c ghee
1/2 c split moong dal (wash well and let dry)
2 TB cashew pieces

2 to 2 1/2 c milk, warmed
2-3 lumps jaggery

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Bake the hubbard squash in 375F oven about one hour or until very soft and lightly browned (I did this in the toaster oven). Meanwhile, start the dal:

Melt the ghee and toast the dried moong dal slowly, until it is fragrant and reddish-golden. When it’s almost toasted, add the cashews as well.

Add a cup of the warm milk and bring just to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer slowly until the dal begins to soften and break up (about an hour).

Now add the baked squash (scooped from its shell) and the remaining milk. Stir well and continue to cook slowly until most of the milk is absorbed (about another half hour). Add the jaggery and stir well to ensure that it melts. Continue to cook another 10-15 minutes or until the halwa is the consistency you prefer.

hubbard halwa cooking
slow-cooking colorful hubbard squash halwa

Serve warm with spiced cream (cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, whatever you fancy) — or — spread in a shallow greased tray to cool before cutting into shapes to be served at room temperature. This had so much ghee that I didn’t care for it straight from the fridge — my personal choice would be warm.

Compared to many halwa recipes I have seen, this took a long time to make. It was rich and delicious without being overly sweet — and the cheerful autumn-colored sweet stew bubbling away on the stove made the kitchen seem quite homey, so I felt it was worth the time 🙂

I also made mushroom and green pepper bhajjis — everyone has their own favorite recipe so I won’t detail this one, only to say I used the mild cubanelle peppers and they were really delicious. Something about the flavor of the besan and those peppers was a special combination, like two foods made for one another. The mushrooms were good too, but nowhere near like those peppers!

bhajjis
mushroom and cubanelle pepper bhajjis on American Pioneer platter
by Liberty Works, circa 1931

hubbard squash halwa
hubbard squash halwa with moong dal on a favorite green stoneware plate from Christmas Tree Shops, circa 2006 ~ their slogan: “don’t you just love a bargain” 😉

Happy Diwali!

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