Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over a medium heat. Add the asafoetida, bay leaf, panch phoran, and chiles, and fry for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring well to combine.
Add the onion, stir to coat in the spices, and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened and golden brown.
Add the ground turmeric, cumin and coriander, the salt, sugar, and ginger paste, and stir well. Add a splash of water, stir, and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the butternut squash pieces and the boiling water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid , and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the butternut squash is tender. The butternut squash is cooked once a knife goes smoothly all the way through without putting any pressure on it. Cook the squash any longer than this and it begins to break up. Take care not to stir too often.
Add the chickpeas, ground garam masala and fennel seeds and another splash of water if necessary to keep the mixture loose. Add more salt and sugar, if you like, to taste. Stir well and continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until warmed through. Serve immediately.;
*Can be found at specialty Asian or Indian markets. A blend of equal quantities of fenugreek, nigella seeds, fennel seeds, cumin and mustard seeds, available from Asian supermarkets, also known as Bengali five-spice.
Recipe courtesy of Anjum Anand