We’re tiptoeing into that time of year when squash/pumpkins/call ‘em what you want start to become increasingly important and prominent on the Paradiso menus. Typically, our first response to the arrival of such a definitive seasonal ingredient is to do our favourite dish from last year. I just checked, you’ve got that recipe already.
So for the October recipe of the month, here’s one that’s not from the Paradiso repertoire, but is one of my favourites from for the love of food. Roast squash and curry go together like sunshine and reggae; throw in a piece of flatbread and you’re skanking; wrap the bread around the curry, eat with mango and you’re in Caribbean heaven. The fact that’s it’s anything but Caribbean outside is all the better reason to crank up the music – and the central heating – and make one of the world’s great comfort foods.
I demo-ed this recently, partly to take a run-through the recipe from start to finish in a tight schedule to see how it was holding up. Sometimes, when you come back to a recipe after a bit, you realise you’ve learned something else in between and there might be a better, shorter or smarter way to do the dish. The part I was most interested in was how well the bread would behave if left to sit around for a few hours. Those of you with a copy of ‘for the love…’ will know that I said the bread might harden up a little if made in advance, and that wetting and reheating it would make it ultra-pliable again.
To be honest, I didn’t learn anything new, which was a relief and a disappointment at the same time. The recipe works, the wetting-the-bread-thing is true, the filling is a great curry, the bread a fine bread, and together they make more than the sum of their parts. And that’s the magic you’re always looking for in food.
Okay, I did learn one thing – rolling hot curry into warm bread hurts roundabout roti number three. If the curry is cold, the roti will take too long to heat through, making the bread too crisp. So I suppose the instruction should say ‘ fill the bread with curry as warm as your fingers can stand’. Or get some silicon mittens.
Finally, the most important question of this or any recipe – why make your own flatbread when you can buy decent stuff? For the fun of it, of course!
250g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons butter, melted
vegetable oil, to cook
600g pumpkin or squash, in 2cm dice
300g potato, in 2cm dice
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2-4 fresh green chillies, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground
4 cloves, ground
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
300g courgette, halved and sliced 2cm thick
1 tablespoon tamarind paste, or juice of 1 lime
200mls coconut milk
2 tablespoons mango chutney
½ medium bulb fennel, finely diced
2 spring onions, finely chopped
½ red pepper, finely diced
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
Place Preheat the oven to 350f.
Toss the pumpkin in a little vegetable oil in an oven dish and roast for 20 minutes, until tender and beginning to caramelise.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop on the diced potato. Boil for five minutes to partly cook the potato, then drain in a colander and set aside.
Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a heavy pan over medium heat. Add the onions and fry for two minutes, stirring. Add the garlic and spices and cook for two minutes more, stirring often. Add the courgette and cashews and fry for five minutes. Add the potato, pumpkin, tamarind and coconut milk. Bring back to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, until the potato is tender and the sauce has reduced to a barely moist consistency. Season with salt.
While the curry is cooking, make the salsa by combining everything in a bowl.
Sift the flour and baking powder together with a large pinch of salt. Stir in the butter. Add water and knead for a minute to get a soft dough. Cut into 6 pieces and shape each into a ball, then let stand for 10 minutes.
Place a wide, heavy pan or griddle pan over medium heat.
Roll out a piece of dough very thinly, to a diamer of about 24cm. Brush the top with oil and place on the pan, oiled side down. Cook for a minute, brush the top with oil and flip the roti over to cook for one minute more. Roll the next one while the first is cooking, and continue until all are cooked. Store the cooked roti under a moist towel.
Place a warm roti on a board and put a generous amount of the curry in the centre. Fold up the near end of the roti, then fold in the sides and fold over again to make a tight parcel.
Warm the roti in the oven for a minute or two, then serve with some salsa spooned over.