My parents are both from Kolkata, India and though I have grown up in the US, Bengali food was a staple growing up. Every night my mom would make a complete Bengali meal of rice, lentils, a few vegetable dishes, and either chicken, fish, eggs, or goat meat. Although many nights I sat at the dinner table wishing I could be eating pasta or meatloaf instead like most of my other friends, now that I have my own place and very little clue on how to cook Bengali food, I miss it. Many of the ingredients used in Bengali cuisine are not readily available at the international section of my local grocery store. The last time my parents visited me, I asked my mom to acquire one of my favorite Bengali ingredients, shorsher tel, mustard oil, from one of her friends who lives in my city. Mustard oil has the same texture as other oils but taste wise is similar to horseradish. Be careful when using it raw because if you have too much you may end up in tears! In Bengali cuisine mustard oil is often used as a dressing lightly drizzled on top of steamed vegetables or mixed in with mashed potatoes. On a particularly frigid Sunday night, I decided that the heat of mustard oil is what I needed to get me out of the cold funk. As the main entrée, salmon, baked in the oven, I prepared a side of butternut squash. I find it difficult to cut butternut squash, so I bought it pre-chopped at the grocery store. I put the squash cubes in a microwavable bowl, and poked holes in the pieces with a fork. I placed about 2 cups of the squash into the microwave for 7 minutes and let it sit for another 5 minutes. Microwave time will vary based on the quantity of squash, the size of the pieces, and the power of your microwave. After the squash cooled down a bit, I mashed it and added in 1 cup of diced white onions, 1 tablespoon of mustard oil, a pinch of salt, and mixed. It turned out delicious and guilt free too! I highly recommend getting your hands on a bottle of mustard oil at your local South Asian grocers (or Amazon.com) if you want to add some excitement to your veggies.
2 cups of butternut squash, cubed
1 tbsp mustard oil
Salt to taste