Set a good-sized saucepan on medium-high heat, add 4 level tablespoons butter and a level tablespoon coconut oil. Athe butter/oil mix foams, add the onions and a heaped teaspoon salt. Stir well and drop the heat to low-medium. Gently fry the onions so they turn soft and golden – about 7 minutes or so.
Now add the chilies, ginger, garlic, cardamom pods, and the ounce of finely chopped cilantro. Drop the heat to low, stir well, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
Add the bay leaves, a heaped teaspoon black pepper, and all the dried spices except the cayenne pepper and the turmeric - they’re going with the roasted butternut, not into the sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes on that low heat. The mix is going to be fairly dry now, so stir so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.
Add the tomato puree, cherry tomatoes, canned tomatoes, and sugar. Stir well and turn the heat to medium-high. When the sauce starts to bubble, stir again and drop the heat to low. Cook for another 20 minutes on that low heat, stirring every so often until the cherry tomatoes lose most of their body.
Stir in the chicken stock – or veg stock if you prefer - and cook on low until the sauce just begins to bubble. As soon as it does, remove the pan from the heat and cover it. Now’s a good time to check for saltiness – add some more if necessary according to your taste. The cream only goes in later – once the butternut and chickpeas are ready.
Roasting the butternut squash
Put a large baking tray in your oven set to 450F. The tray needs to be heated before you add the butternut – we’re roasting hot and fast here.
While the oven’s heating, put the chunked butternut into a good-sized mixing bowl and pour in a level tablespoon melted coconut oil. Stir thoroughly so that the chunks get covered in the oil. Now stir in the cayenne, turmeric, and a heaped teaspoon each of salt and black pepper – making sure all the chunks are well coated in that spicy mix.
Remove the hot tray from the oven and quickly spread the butternut squash evenly in a single layer across the tray. Return the tray to the oven on a high shelf and let the butternut roast for 15 minutes. Then remove the tray and turn the chunks before returning them to the oven for another 15 minutes’ roasting. You’re aiming to get a dark golden colour on the chunks, so roast for a little longer if need be. Turn off the oven, open the oven door a little and let the butternut sit there to keep warm. Time now for the chickpeas.
Crisping the chickpeas
Set a good-sized skillet (nine-inch is grand) onto a high heat and add ½ tablespoon butter. As soon as it foams, add the chickpeas and drop the heat to medium-high. Let the chickpeas sizzle in the butter for another 4 minutes and then give them a good turning stir. Continue to cook for another 4 minutes, then stir again. You want to get a nice crisp outer on them but not for them to take on much color. Done. You’re nearly ready to serve.
Bringing it all together
Return the makhani sauce to a high heat and bring it to a bubble. Now drop the heat to low and stir in the cream. As soon as the sauce starts bubbling again, remove from the heat and gently stir in three quarters of the crisped chickpeas. Time for plating in good-sized, nicely warmed soup bowls.
Pour a generous amount of the sauce into each warmed bowl. Top the sauce with chunks of roasted butternut and the remainder of the chickpeas scattered over the top. Serve with basmati rice alongside.
To drink? I’d go for a chilled, fresh and fruity chenin blanc because this is such a richly flavored dish. Or perhaps a fairly light beer served icy cold.