What do you do when one of your favorite go-to restaurants lets customer service go right down the drain and the staff starts treating the clientele like cattle? Simple: You figure out how to recreate your favorite dishes at home.
I'm talking about the Helmand, a Baltimore restaurant with a well-deserved reputation for amazing and authentic Afghan cuisine. The trouble is, the last few times Poppa Trix and I visited - having made reservations well in advance - we were told the table wasn't ready and herded off to wait ... and wait ... and wait at a very hot, crowded bar where it was seemingly imposible to find someone to take a drink order. The last time this happened, I had to beg the maitre d' to be seated in the area we had requested when we made our reservation - and this after being seated nearly an hour late.
Now, we're generally pretty easy to please, but I'm a broke freelancer and Poppa Trix is an artist, and we simply can't justify spending our hard-earned coins on a place that treats us like that. So we swore off the Helmand for good.
There was just one problem with this plan: the vegetarian kaddo borawni. We always looked forward to this dish, a combination of sweet pumpkin and garlicky yogurt that, before I really started cooking and thinking about ingredients, seemed like some mysterious piece of unreproducable alchemy.
Well, that was then. Turns out this little delicacy is remarkably easy to make. Even though I substituted acorn squash for sugar pumpkin, Poppa Trix swears that my version tastes the same - maybe even a little better. I don't know about that, but it's pretty darn tasty. Don't let the simplicity of the ingredients fool you - the combination of sweet and sour, combined with the punch of the garlic, is rich, complex, and satisfying. This would make a fresh and surprising squash presentation at your next Thanksgiving feast!
Kaddo Borawni, My Way
2 medium acorn squash, halved with seeds removed
4 tbsp sugar
dusting of nutmeg
1 cup Greek style yogurt
5 large cloves of garlic, minced fine
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
Lightly brush the squash with olive oil and half of the sugar.
Bake in a roasting pan in 2-3 inches of water at 375 degrees until just tender
Remove the flesh from the shell, and break up into chunks.
Place the squash in a casserole dish. Add a bit more olive oil, the rest of the sugar and a dusting of nutmeg.
Place back in the oven until very tender.
Meanwhile, make your yogurt garlic sauce.
Mix the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Taste for balance.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
To serve, drizzle the cool sauce over the piping hot squash.
I served mine with homemade baba ganoush and za'atar spiced flatbread - but that's the subject of a future post!