Cook the Book: Bengali Squash with Chickpeas 

Cook the Book: Bengali Squash with Chickpeas\u00a0

Anjum Anand subbed in vegetable oil for ghee in many of her recipes in Anjum's New Indian, turning many of her vegetarian recipes into an I-can't-believe-it's-vegan! delight. All of the richness in this Bengali Squash with Chickpeas comes from a combination of sweet butternut squash and a great mix of spices, both ground and whole.

Two unique and possibly unfamiliar flavors in this dish are Asafoetida and panch phoron. Asafoetida is a strong-smelling powdered spice that adds oniony notes of sautéed leeks. Panch phoron is a blend of five spices including nigella seed, fenugreek, cumin, fennel, and either celery or radhuni seed. Incorporating these spices in with mildly sweet butternut squash and earthy chickpeas makes for a wonderfully warm and hearty vegan curry.

Of course, the spice blend and cooking techniques here are just a template. This recipe would do just as well with any type of squash or beans, or even starchy root vegetables.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Anjum's New Inidan to give away this week.

Adapted from Anjum's New Indian. Copyright © 2010. Published by WIley. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

  • Yield:4


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • good pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon panch phoran
  • 1–2 mild dried red chiles
  • 1 small onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 scant teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 rounded teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 1/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and flesh cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 cup drained and rinsed canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 3/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground


  1. 1.

    Heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan. Add the asafoetida, bay leaf, panch phoran and chiles; cook over low heat for about 1 minute. 

  2. 2.

    Add the onion and cook until soft and golden. Stir in the turmeric, cumin and ground coriander, along with the salt, sugar and ginger paste. Give the pan a stir, add a splash of water and cook for another minute. 

  3. 3.

    Add the squash, pour in 2/3 cup water. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer until the squash is cooked through, around 15–18 minutes.

  4. 4.

    Stir in the chickpeas, garam masala, fennel seed powder and a splash of water. Cook for another minute and serve. The dish should be moist but not gravied.