Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Month of Food Blogging (11 of 28) : In which your author attempts Kadu with meat sauce and only sort of succeeds.

I had some bad family news earlier in the day, and Husband had been working over the weekend (and was unavailable for photography duties), so I was a little off my game. I considered simply not writing this one up, but thought the process of recovering this meal from disaster might be educational, or at least entertaining.

Kadu (technically Kadu Qima, since I am making it with meat sauce) is a traditional Afghan dish, made with pumpkin. However, Afghani pumpkins are apparently much more flavorful than American pumpkins, so it's common to see people make it with the more meaty butternut squash. It's essentially roasted squash with a bolognese over the top, finished off with a dollop of yogurt-mint sauce. I often make a cheater version of this, starting with canned spaghetti sauce, which is also quite delicious. However, I decided to get all fancy, and do a proper kadu, starting from this recipe and this recipe. Getting fancy may have been my first mistake. Read on.

Butternut kadu

Servings: 2
Time: 23 minutes
Planning Ahead: None
The Funny Stuff: Garam masala, ginger, other exotic spices
Virtues: Fast, high in vitamin A, low fat, reasonable sodium content.
Downsides: None. It's awesome.
Calories: 395

1 small butternut squash
1/2 lb ground beef or lamb
1/2 tsp salt
1 onion. If you, um, had an onion. Crap.
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cubes prechopped ginger, or 1/4 inch of fresh ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
a couple whole cardamom, or 1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp garam masala
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
6 oz plain yogurt (preferably low fat Greek)
1 tsp dried mint
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp salt

Set out your ingredients. Realize you have forgotten to buy onions for the third time this week, even though you JUST went to the grocery store to buy yogurt for this recipe. Swear like a sailor, causing both your infant daughter and husband to look at you with deep concern.

Shrug your shoulders, aiming for Gallic insouciance. Chop your squash into rounds. Pop it into a microwave safe dish and microwave it for 8 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

While the squash is microwaving, start your ground beef browning in a skillet with 1/2 tsp salt sprinkled over. When the squash is done in the microwave, put it on a cookie sheet, and pop it in the oven with a 15 minute timer.

If there were an onion, you would now add it, chopped, and brown it with the meat. But there is no onion. Hunt around your cupboards in case there is an onion that has materialized, in amongst the teething biscuits and cheerios. In desperation, fish out some green onions from the fridge. Chop them finely. Add those, along with some spices, the 2 garlic cloves, the ginger, and the canned tomatoes.

Stir that all together. Decide that the green onion just isn't going to cut it. Add a metric boatload of onion powder. (Which is slightly smaller than an imperial boatload, as determined at the Treaty of Calais in 1889, after the British navy forcibly proved that their ships were, in fact, larger than the French ships, and demanded that the French not call them "boats" any more. (OK, I may have made that last bit up)). Stir everything together, and let it simmer.

While it is simmering, add the garlic, mint, and 1/2 tsp salt to the yogurt. Stir it all together and let it sit so the flavors can meld.

Taste your pretty, pretty sauce.

Discover that it is tragically bland. Swear some more, but softly, and in a foreign language this time, so as not to teach the baby bad words. Add more of everything. (Bringing us up to the totals described in the recipe.)

Simmer some more, and discover that it is now delicious. When the squash is done baking, pop it onto a plate, cover it with meat sauce, and a dollop of yogurt.

Sit down to eat your tasty meal, only 23 minutes and 5 swear words later. Baby had some of everything, and loved it.

Photo credits to Aleatha Parker-Wood.
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