Calabaza is the West Indian pumpkin and its often used in Caribbean cooking. It’s an old Spanish term that can be applied to a variety of squashes and melons. In North America, calabaza generally refers to any species of tropical gourds of the genus Cucurbita such as C. moschata and C. maxima. In Latin America calabaza goes by several names such as auyama (Venezuela), ayote (Central America), abóbora (Brazil), and zapallo (most of South America). The skin is generally a dark green, while the flesh is orange or yellow. Calabaza is a good source of Vitamin A and has been used throughout MesoAmerican cooking. I always see calabaza being sold at my favorite supermarket in Brooklyn, though I’ve only just started to make use of it. Though you can find it often in candies and sweets, one of the most common prepartions is in a stew, such as this one.
-1 large calabaza (or acorn or butternut squash), peeled, seeded, and cut into bite sized pieces
-1 can of black beans, drained
-1 large white onion, chopped
-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped
-1.5 pounds chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
-2 (10.5 oz) cans chicken broth
-1.5 cups water
-1 tbs lime juice
-1 tbs chili powder
-1 tsp pepper
-1 tbs ground cumin
-1 tsp pepper
-2 tbs butter
-2 tbs flour
-1/4 cup cilantro
1.) In a large pot, combine squash, onion, garlic, peppers, chicken, broth, water, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, and ground pepper.
2.) Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes or until squash is tender.
3.) As the stew simmers, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour to the butter, stirring over low to medium heat for approximately one minute.
4.) Slowly add 1 cup of broth from the stew and cook until the mixture thickens, should be paste-like. Remove from heat, gradually add this mixture back into the stew, stirring continuously, until it thickens.
5.) Stir in cilantro and serve.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.