Autumn dishes come with the season, with a gentle balance of warmth and coolness in the air. This time of year sets the stage for those crisp fall evenings when there’s an undeniable satisfaction in sharing hearty meals that bring families together.
Join me as I unveil our cherished household favorites, from soul-nourishing stews to delightful fall treats. These dishes not only grace our home with enticing aromas but also pay homage to the timeless customs that give this season its special meaning.
Chicken and Chickpea Stew (4-6 servings)
Chicken and Chickpea Stew brings comfort to the table with its tender chicken, robust flavours, and the wholesome goodness of chickpeas – not to mention its nutritious punch!
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 Red bell pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 cups chicken/vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp lemon
- Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add diced chicken and cook until browned on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside.
- Add diced onion to the same pot and sauté until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Add the spices (cumin, coriander, cinnamon, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper) to the pot and stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the can of diced tomatoes, chickpeas, red bell pepper, chicken broth, and browned chicken back into the pot. Stir to combine.
- Bring the stew to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After 30 minutes, add the lemon juice to the pot and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Serve the stew hot, garnished with fresh chopped parsley.
This can be served with rice, crusty bread such as baguette, and salad.
Ratatouille (4-6 servings)
Ratatouille is a classic French vegetable stew that’s not only delicious but also visually stunning.
This dish holds a special place in my heart, especially because it reminds me of those early cinema trips with my sister. “Ratatouille” was one of the first animations we ever watched together. It’s not just a meal; it’s a warm, flavorful reminder of those cherished moments that make our autumn days feel so heartwarming.
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 butternut squash
- 2 medium zucchinis
- 2 red bell peppers
- 4-5 ripe tomatoes
- 1 large onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Fresh basil leaves (for garnish)
- Wash all the vegetables. Cut the eggplant, zucchinis, and bell peppers into 1/2-inch (1.3 cm) cubes. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Core the tomatoes and chop them into chunks.
- Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet or a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion and minced garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until they become fragrant and translucent.
- Add the chopped eggplant, zucchinis, butternut squash and bell peppers to the pot. Stir well.
- Sprinkle the dried thyme and dried basil over the vegetables.
- Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Gently fold in the chopped tomatoes.
- Cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to low-medium. Allow the vegetables to simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The vegetables should become tender but not mushy.
- Taste the ratatouille and adjust the seasoning if needed. You can add more salt, pepper, or herbs to taste. Remove the pot from the heat once the vegetables are tender, and the flavours have melded together.
This can be served on its own as a vegetarian main course, a side dish, or even a topping for pasta or rice.
Lentil Soup (4-6 servings)
Embrace the cozy spirit of fall with a steaming bowl of Red Lentil Soup. There’s nothing quite like the comforting warmth and nourishing flavors this soup delivers, making it a perfect addition to your menu.
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes (optional)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped (for garnish)
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until it becomes translucent.
- Stir in the diced carrots and celery. Sauté for a few minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.
- Add the minced garlic, ground cumin, turmeric, paprika, and cayenne pepper to the pot. Sauté for about a minute until the spices become fragrant.
- Add the rinsed red lentils to the pot and stir to combine them with the vegetables and spices. Pour in the vegetable or chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the soup simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are tender and start to break down.
- Add diced tomatoes to the soup and let them cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Season the soup with salt and black pepper to taste. If you prefer a smoother consistency, you can partially use an immersion blender to blend the soup. This step is optional; you can leave it chunky if you like.
- Squeeze the juice of one lemon into the soup and stir it well. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley.
This can be served on its own or with some crispy breadsticks.
Pumpkin Halwa (4-6 servings)
Discover the beloved tradition of Pumpkin Halwa. This was a cherished favorite of my grandparents and is a much-loved dessert in Pakistan, celebrating the rich flavors of Autumn.
- 2 cups grated pumpkin
- 1/2 cup ghee (clarified butter)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup sugar (adjust to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- A pinch of saffron strands (optional)
- Chopped nuts (such as almonds, cashews, and pistachios) for garnish
- Start by grating the pumpkin using a box grater or a food processor. Set aside.
- In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the ghee over medium heat. Add the grated pumpkin and sauté it in the ghee for about 10-15 minutes until it softens and releases its moisture.
- Pour in the milk and let the mixture simmer on low heat. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
- As the pumpkin absorbs the milk and cooks down further, add the sugar. Stir well to combine. Continue to cook the mixture on low heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the pumpkin becomes thick and glossy. This should take about 20-25 minutes.
- Add the ground cardamom to the halwa for flavor. If using saffron, you can soak a pinch of saffron strands in a tablespoon of warm milk for a few minutes and then add it to the halwa.
- Once the halwa reaches a thick consistency and the ghee starts to separate from the pumpkin, it’s ready. The pumpkin halwa should have a rich color and a wonderful aroma. Turn off the heat and let the halwa cool slightly. Garnish with chopped nuts of your choice. You can lightly roast the nuts in a separate pan for enhanced flavor.
Serve the pumpkin halwa warm or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a delightful contrast of temperatures.
Shahi Tukray (4-6 servings)
This is one of my favorite desserts! Shahi Tukray is a creamy, saffron-infused delight with richness and nutty garnishes that make it a delightful choice for Autumn.
- 6 slices of bread (white or whole wheat)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup condensed milk
- 1/4 cup sugar (adjust to taste)
- 1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
- Saffron strands, soaked in warm milk (optional)
- Chopped nuts (such as almonds and pistachios) for garnish
For Sugar Syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar for the sugar syrup. Bring it to a boil and simmer for a few minutes until the sugar dissolves and the syrup slightly thickens. Set aside.
- Trim the edges of the bread slices and cut them into halves diagonally, creating triangular pieces.
- Heat ghee in a pan over medium heat. Fry the bread slices until they turn golden brown and crisp on both sides. Drain excess ghee on paper towels.
- In a separate pan, combine whole milk, condensed milk, and sugar. Simmer the mixture over low heat, stirring continuously, until it thickens slightly and reduces to a creamy consistency. Add cardamom powder and saffron strands soaked in warm milk for flavour. Mix well.
- Dip each fried bread slice in the prepared sugar syrup for a few seconds, ensuring they absorb some syrup. Place the dipped slices on a serving dish.
- Pour the prepared milk mixture over the bread slices, ensuring they are evenly coated. Allow the bread slices to absorb the milk mixture.
- Let the Shahi Tukray chill in the refrigerator for a few hours. During this time, the bread slices will absorb the milk mixture and become soft and luscious. Before serving, garnish with chopped nuts, such as almonds and pistachios. Serve the Shahi Tukray chilled.
This Autumn, as the leaves begin to turn colors, create your own cherished memories and traditions with your family. Try savoring the delicious flavors of these heartwarming Autumn dishes and leave a delightful legacy for generations to come.