I have ulterior motives. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should probably admit that I start businesses (or as I sometimes like to call them, “projects”) for selfish reasons. I opened a gourmet grocery in the smallish East Texas city I lived in years ago because I wanted a place to buy good bread and olive oil. Here in Austin, I co-founded a local produce delivery company because I wanted the farmers’ market to come to my door. And now? I wanted to find a way to get in the kitchen and cook with all the inspiring people in our community, and Kitchen Underground was born.
Along the way, I’ve met bakers, butchers, candy makers, and people with secret recipes for roux, tikka masala, and marmalade they’re willing to share with the lucky people who sign up for a class. My friend Shefalay is one of the most talented cooks out there, a natural who makes it all seem easy and fun. A busy mom of two, she has tons of tips and tricks for whipping up healthy, seasonal food fast. I’ve been a fan girl of her blog Shef’s Kitchen for years, incorporating her traditional Indian recipes and ingredients into my own seasonal repertoire, with the most delicious results.
One of my favorites is her recipe for cilantro chutney (which she learned from her mom) – it’s bright and tart and just a little spicy, and I love to slather it on just about anything, from sandwiches to grilled chicken. On sweet roasted squash, dusted with warm spices, it’s downright amazing. Make a batch and keep it on hand for a week and you’ll find a million ways to use it. If you don’t eat it all right away, Shef suggests freezing it in ice cube trays – you’ll always have a quick hit of flavor at the ready whenever you need it!
- 1 acorn squash, sliced thinly crosswise, seeds removed
- olive oil for drizzling
- 1 t garam masala spice blend
- salt to taste
- ¼ c cilantro chutney (recipe follows)
- ¼ c plain Greek yogurt
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Place squash on a baking sheet in a single layer and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and garam masala. Roast for 12-15 minutes, until soft and beginning to caramelize.
- Remove from the oven, layer squash onto a serving place and drizzle with cilantro chutney (recipe below). Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
Shef’s Mom’s Cilantro Chutney
- ¼ cup raw unsalted peanuts
- 1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped, discarding only the thick stems
- ½ serrano chili pepper, coarsely chopped, seeds and all
- 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped peeled gingerroot
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime juice
- ½ cup water
Place ingredients in a blender and blend on high. If you have a blender with a tapered base, you might need to use a little more water, but try to use as little as you possibly can. Periodically stop the blender to scrape down the sides. When smooth, taste for salt and acid and adjust as needed.