Afghani Squash Casserole Recipe - Vegetarian Dish from Afghanistan

Afghani Squash Casserole

Afghani Squash Casserole Recipe - Vegetarian Dish from Afghanistan
Region / culture: Afghanistan | Preparation time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 35 minutes | Servings: 6 | Vegetarian diet


Afghani Squash Casserole
Afghani Squash Casserole

Afghani Squash Casserole is a delightful dish that brings the rich flavors and culinary traditions of Afghanistan to your dinner table. This recipe combines the sweetness of winter squash with the tanginess of yogurt and the aromatic spices typical of Afghan cuisine, creating a comforting and nutritious meal that's perfect for any occasion.


The origins of Afghani Squash Casserole can be traced back to the traditional Afghan kitchens, where winter squash is a staple ingredient due to its availability and nutritional value. Over time, this dish has evolved, incorporating ingredients like yogurt and spaghetti sauce, which might not be traditional but offer a modern twist to the classic recipe. This fusion reflects the adaptability and innovation within Afghan culinary practices.


How to prepare

  1. 1. Bring 4 qt (3.78 liters) of water to a rapid boil over high heat. Add the squash and cook for about 25 minutes, or until tender but not mushy. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, heat the spaghetti sauce over medium heat. Add cinnamon, cloves, and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the sauce reduces to about 3 cups.
  3. 3. In a separate bowl, mix yogurt with mint, scallions, and salt. Set aside. Place the cooked squash in a serving dish and pour the spaghetti sauce over the top, leaving some squash uncovered. Drizzle with the yogurt sauce and garnish with mint leaves.


  • For a vegan version, substitute the yogurt with a plant-based alternative and ensure the spaghetti sauce is vegan. Adding chickpeas or lentils can increase the protein content and add texture to the dish.
  • Consider adding ground lamb or beef for a protein-rich version, or incorporate other vegetables like spinach or kale for added nutrition and color.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure your Afghani Squash Casserole turns out perfectly, consider these tips:

- Choose a winter squash that is firm and heavy for its size to ensure it's fresh and flavorful.

- Be careful not to overcook the squash; it should be tender but still hold its shape.

- Allow the spaghetti sauce to reduce properly to concentrate the flavors.

- If using dried mint, remember it's more potent than fresh mint, so adjust accordingly.

Serving Suggestions

Serve this casserole warm as a main dish. It pairs beautifully with a side of rice or flatbread to soak up the delicious sauce.

Cooking Techniques

Boiling the squash and reducing the spaghetti sauce are key techniques in this recipe. These methods help to concentrate flavors and achieve the desired texture.

Ingredient Substitutions

If spaghetti sauce is not available, tomato sauce with added Italian herbs can be used. Greek yogurt can substitute plain yogurt for a thicker consistency.

Make Ahead Tips

This casserole can be prepared a day in advance. Simply reheat in the oven or microwave before serving, adding a little water if necessary to prevent drying out.

Presentation Ideas

Garnish with fresh mint leaves and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper for a pop of color and a hint of heat.

Pairing Recommendations

A crisp, dry white wine or a light red wine pairs wonderfully with the flavors of this casserole.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in the microwave or oven, adding a splash of water if needed.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A serving of Afghani Squash Casserole contains approximately 200 calories, making it a nutritious and satisfying option for those monitoring their calorie intake.


This dish is a good source of carbohydrates, primarily from the winter squash, providing the energy your body needs. A serving of Afghani Squash Casserole contains approximately 30 grams of carbohydrates.


The fats in this recipe come mainly from the yogurt, contributing to the creaminess and flavor of the dish. Each serving contains about 5 grams of fat, making it a relatively low-fat option.


Afghani Squash Casserole offers a modest amount of protein, around 6 grams per serving, primarily from the yogurt. This makes it a suitable dish for those looking to increase their protein intake in a delicious way.

Vitamins and minerals

This casserole is rich in vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A from the squash, calcium and phosphorus from the yogurt, and various antioxidants from the spices used. These nutrients support overall health and well-being.


This recipe contains dairy (yogurt) and may not be suitable for individuals with a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance. Always check the labels of store-bought ingredients for potential allergens.


Overall, Afghani Squash Casserole is a nutritious dish that provides a balanced combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, along with essential vitamins and minerals. It's a healthy choice for a main meal.


Afghani Squash Casserole is a flavorful and nutritious dish that combines the best of Afghan cuisine with a modern twist. It's perfect for those seeking a comforting meal that's both healthy and satisfying.

How did I get this recipe?

The moment I found this recipe is one I won't soon forget. It was a warm summer day, and I was visiting a friend who had just returned from a trip to Afghanistan. As we sat in her kitchen, sipping tea and catching up, she suddenly mentioned a dish she had tried while she was there called Afghani Squash Casserole. She described it as a flavorful and comforting dish made with tender squash, fragrant spices, and creamy yogurt. My mouth watered just thinking about it.

I begged her to share the recipe with me, and after some persuasion, she finally relented. She pulled out a worn and stained piece of paper from her recipe box and handed it to me. As I read through the ingredients and instructions, I could feel my excitement growing. This was a recipe unlike any I had ever tried before, and I couldn't wait to recreate it in my own kitchen.

I thanked my friend profusely and promised to make the dish for her the next time she came over for dinner. As soon as I got home, I set to work gathering the ingredients I would need. The recipe called for a variety of spices that I didn't typically use in my cooking, like turmeric, cumin, and coriander. I made a trip to the store to stock up on these exotic ingredients, eager to expand my culinary horizons.

The next day, I set to work preparing the Afghani Squash Casserole. I started by sautéing onions and garlic in a generous amount of olive oil, filling my kitchen with their savory aroma. Next, I added the squash, cut into bite-sized pieces, and let it cook until it was tender and slightly caramelized. The spices came next, a fragrant blend that filled the air with their warm and earthy scent.

As the casserole simmered on the stove, I couldn't resist sneaking a taste. The flavors were rich and complex, with a hint of sweetness from the squash and a subtle kick of heat from the spices. I knew right away that this dish was going to be a hit.

When my friend arrived for dinner that evening, I proudly presented her with a steaming dish of Afghani Squash Casserole. She took a bite and closed her eyes in delight, savoring the flavors that transported her back to the streets of Kabul. She praised my cooking skills and insisted that I share the recipe with others who would appreciate its unique taste.

And so, I began to make the Afghani Squash Casserole regularly, serving it to friends and family who marveled at its exotic flavors and comforting warmth. Each time I made it, I thought of my friend and the magical moment when she had shared the recipe with me, opening up a world of culinary possibilities that I had never before explored.

Over the years, I have continued to refine and perfect the recipe, adjusting the spices and ingredients to suit my own taste. It has become a staple in my kitchen, a dish that never fails to impress and satisfy. And every time I make it, I am reminded of that fateful day when I discovered the magic of Afghani cuisine, thanks to a dear friend and a well-loved recipe.


| Afghan Recipes | Mint Recipes | Spaghetti Recipes | Squash Recipes | Vegetarian Recipes | Yogurt Recipes |

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