Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Dear friends of AZ Cookbook! Wanted to wish you all and your loved ones a Happy New Year! May the new year bring only joy, happiness, health, prosperity, success, luck, abundance, friendships, joy and many more to your lives! I hope the world will be a better place in 2013 – with peace on earth, more tolerance and understanding among people, and no hunger any place.

See in you in 2013!

Feride

PS: I have a nice photo to post here but have been experiencing some problems uploading images, hence the post a bit plain.

Rice Pilaf with Butternut Squash and Beans

Butternut Squash Rice

“When are you going to change that cookie picture on your blog?” – recently a good friend of mine reproached me nicely.  She is right. I have been away for too long. But my mind has always been here, really. Please bear with me as I disappear and emerge from the abyss of silence from time to time. I am not quitting blogging – I am here. Just a bit (actually a lot) slow for the myriad of reasons for which I am not going to complain. All is well and life is beautiful and colorful.

Speaking about colorful. Rice pilaf can be colorful too. Just like the one in the recipe below, in which rice is happily married with sun bright butternut squash and pretty tiny brown beans. I’ll tell you more about this delicious rice pilaf.

This pilaf comes from Azerbaijan where it is also called balgabagli ash. Many variations of rice pilaf made with butternut squash are made across the country. Some call for butternut squash only to mix with the rice, others take additional ingdedients, such as dried beans, while others require meat for a more elaborate taste. This particular recipe comes from the regions of Balaken and Zagatala and I learned to make it from my aunt, an excellent cook of the region’s dishes.

Butternut Squash

Here the slightly sweetened butternut squash is sprinkled with dill seeds, the region’s cooking staple. You will love what the dills do to the squash – lots of aroma and flavor. The meat addition is cooked separately and is either combined with the cooked rice before serving, or served separately in a bowl, to pass around. Another method to make this pilaf with meat is to arrange tender raw pieces of young lamb onto one half on the bottom of the pan along with the butternut sqush that takes the other half, then spoon the rice on top and steam together. This recipe is my all-time favorite.

Note that no saffron is used in this particular rice pilaf. And a generous use of butter is welcome in the authentic recipe. I use it moderately though.

I hope you enjoy it. And forgive me while you enjoy it (smiles).

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