Cafreal is an enchanting Goan Portuguese dish traditionally made by cooking chicken in a tangy marinade of cilantro, garlic, green chiles, and spices. I’ve replaced the chicken with roasted squash, which works well with cafreal’s fierce little kick. The sauce can be blended and cooked in minutes while the squash roasts, making this a great fuss-free recipe and unsung hero of midweek dinners.
NOTE: You will need a blender for this recipe.
Serves 4 as a main course
1 large butternut squash (3¼ pounds)
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 ounces cilantro
1¾-inch piece of ginger, peeled
8 cloves of garlic
2 Indian green chiles
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
juice of ½ a lemon
1¼ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 x 14-ounce can of coconut milk
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking pans with foil.
Peel the squash, halve it, and scoop the seeds out using a spoon. Chop the flesh into ¼-inch-thick half-moons. Throw them into the pans and drizzle over a couple of tablespoons of oil. Mix with your hands to make sure the squash is evenly coated, then roast for 35 to 45 minutes, or until completely tender and starting to caramelize, turning halfway.
Meanwhile, make the fried onion to top the cafreal. Put a couple of tablespoons of oil into a pan over medium heat and, when hot, add the onion. Fry for 15 to 20 minutes, until caramelized and crisp, then remove from the heat.
To make the cafreal sauce, chop the cilantro, ginger, garlic, and chiles, and put them into a blender. Add the cumin, cinnamon, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and coconut milk, and whizz until everything is well combined.
Place a deep saucepan over medium heat and pour in the cilantro and coconut milk mixture. Cook gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the roasted squash to the sauce and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Transfer to a serving dish, scatter over the fried onion, and serve alongside rice.