Curried Butternut Squash with Brown Chickpeas

Butternut Squash with chickpeas

The combination of pumpkin and the brown chickpeas is a traditional dish from home. We call it Kumror Chokka. Kumro is Pumpkin; but do not ask me why it is a Chokka. Think of this dish as a flavorful curried pumpkin – just right for the season in all its traits and personality.

As a very typical Bengali vegetarian dish, the recipe never uses onion or garlic. It is flavored with the classic Panch Phoron/Indian five spice.The trump card of Bengali cooking probably is the use of mustard oil and the  panch phoron; this spice mix is used  as tempering at the beginning and as well as to finish off the dish.

Spicy, with a light hint of sweet, beautifully flavored and full of texture and nutrition, I could have this any time of the year. I remember this being cooked in the iron kadai/wok at home, which imparted a very nice flavor, or is it only my nostalgia? To keep up with the tradition I always make this in my cast iron pan.

The color, ingredients, and the flavors are so right for this season that I had to post this now. Pumpkin is used in the original recipe, but I prefer using butternut squash as the squash seem to hold up the shape better than the pumpkin.

Butternut Squash

Weekend Herb Blogging, initially started by Kalyn, turns 5 this week!  Haalo (of Cook Almost Anything) herself is hosting this special edition. If you want to participate, head over to her announcement. This recipe is a traditional Indian recipe with a local and seasonal ingredient and I am heading over to WHB with my dish.

Sometimes potatoes are used along with the pumpkin/squash. If you wish to use potatoes, dice them in the same way as the squash and cook them along with the squash. My ma would use a little bit of ghee at the end of cooking and also use some roasted panch phoron to finish off the dish. With or without the ghee and the roasted powder, this dish is amazing, and very uniquely flavored.

With the Thanksgiving around the corner, The Kumror Chokka would make a vibrant side dish for your Holiday table.

Butternut Squash with chickpeas

Curried Butternut Squash with Brown Chickpeas


  1. 1 small-medium pumpkin/butternut squash (about 4 cups diced), peeled and diced
  2. 1.5 cup brown chickpeas/bengal gram/kala chana, soaked or soaked and par boiled
  3. 2 red dry chili
  4. a pinch of hing/asafoetida
  5. 1 tablespoon panch phoron/Indian five spice (see below), divided
  6. 2 green chili pepper, slit
  7. 1″ ginger, grated
  8. 1 teaspoon turmeric
  9. 1 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
  10. 1 teaspoon sugar
  11. salt
  12. 2 tablespoons oil (using pure mustard oil will impart a nice flavor)
  13. 1 teaspoon ghee

Optional: For Garnish: Fresh cilantro/coriander and pepper flakes

Panch Phoron/Indian five Spice:

This is a combination of 5 spices in equal quantities. For the Authentic Taste, do not skip any of the spices, for each of them lend their own flavor & taste.  The seeds of the spices should be all kept whole, not ground into a powder.
Here are the spices:

  1. mustard seeds/rai
  2. cumin seeds/jeera
  3. fenugreek seeds/methi
  4. fennel seeds/saunf
  5. kalonji/kala jeera/nigella/onion seeds


Soak dried brown chickpeas/bengal gram in water for at least 8 hours, overnight is better. If you want to par boil them, cook the soaked chickpeas in the microwave with lots of water for about 10 minutes. Or cook on the stove covered or in a pressure cooker. Drain.

Peel and dice the squash. ( I do a dice and then peel, as I find it easier to peel the smaller pieces).

Divide the panch phoron/Indian five spice into half. Save half the amount and lightly roast the other half. Cool the roasted spices and finely grind them. You can save if you have any leftover, for later use.

Heat the oil in a pan. Put half of the panch phoron/Indian five spice, dry chilies, and the asafoetida/hing in the hot oil.  When they sizzle in about 30 seconds, add the diced squash, salt, sugar, turmeric and chile powder and toss them till all the oil and the spices coat the dices squash.

Cook at high heat for about 5-7 minutes while tossing frequently. Allow the sides of the diced squash to slightly brown. Add the ginger, slit green chilies, and the brown chickpeas. Stir and toss them. Cook at medium heat for about 4-6 minutes. Drizzle some lukewarm water (not more than 2-4 tablespoons), toss and cover and cook till the diced squash are cooked through – fork tender, but not mushy. They should still be holding their shapes. If there is still any liquid left, cook and dry it off. (I like to make this a dry dish. Some prefer to have some liquid left. Have it your way.)

When they are done, just before you switch off the heat, add a teaspoon of ghee and one teaspoon of the roasted five spice powder. Switch off the heat and garnish with fresh cilantro and pepper flakes if you want.

Curried Butternut Squash with chickpeas

Bright colors, nutty chickpeas, tender sweetish squash, flavorful and warm – this is one is a perfect fall recipe.

Butternut Squash with chickpeas

Related Posts:

Mashed Pumpkin

Butternut Squash with Black Beans and Walnuts

Pumpkin with Homemade Harissa

Gingered Squash Soup

Around the Food World:

Indrani’s Chokka

Sharmila’s Chokka

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