I took this dish to a potluck, where it was a great hit. So thank you, Rinku, for what has become one of my favorite recipes.
Rinku is Rinku Bhattacharya, who has written a wonderful cookbook called "The Bengali Spice Chronicles." Now she has a new book, "Spices & Seasons: Simple, Sustainable Indian Flavors" (Hippocrene Books; $35). And that's where you'll find this recipe.
The unique seasoning is Bengali panch phoron. Panch means five, and so it's a blend of five spices--a teaspoon each of fennel seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, black mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds (recipe courtesy of "The Bengali Spice Chronicles"). You'll find this mixture readymade in Indian markets.
The new book hits on today's concerns. There are separate indexes for gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian. It is not, however, a special diet book, because it contains lots of interesting recipes for meats, poultry, fish and eggs. And breads such as naans and puris that require flour.
Bhattacharya is, however, an advocate of fresh, unprocessed, natural foods, sustainability, and cooking that is practical for a busy household.
Choosing one recipe from this book was a challenge, because it is full of great-sounding dishes. Nevertheless, here is the squash, because I've had such success with it.
WHOLE SPICE-ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH SAGE
From "Spices & Seasons" by Rinku Bhattacharya
1 large butternut squash
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon Bengali five spice blend (panch phoron)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ginger paste
Salt to taste, optional
1 tablespoon melted butter
15 fresh sage leaves
Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Peel the squash, remove the seeds and cut it into 2-inch chunks.
Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the five-spice blend, and when it crackles, mix in the black pepper and ginger paste and mix well. Add the squash and stir well to coat. Place the seasoned squash on a greased baking sheet.
Roast the squash in the oven for about 35 minutes. It should be soft and beginning to get flecks of golden brown in spots. Taste to check if it needs salt.
Heat the butter in a small skillet on low heat for about 2 to 3 minutes, until it melts and gradually acquires a shade of pale gold. Add the sage leaves and cook until they turn dark and almost crisp. Pour over the squash and mix lightly. Serve on a flat plate to showcase the spices and sage.
Makes 6 servings.