Wheat Berry and Butternut Squash Salad

I think all immigrants who come to the western world have their own funny stories related to English pronunciation and accents, and we are no exception. Over the 12 years or so that we have been here, we have picked up on slangs and new ways of explaining ourselves, but it has certainly been a process.

When we lived in Dallas, we had to explain to our parents how they were pronouncing the city wrong – it was Da as in David, and Not Du as in Dull. “Da-llas” not “”Dull-Ass”. Then we were in Miami, and we had to fix their “Me-Amy”.

Anup still defends himself when I bring up a funny incident that happened in Dallas. Anup’s business partner had a four year old son, Cooper, we babysat one evening. It was our first experience babysitting a high-energy kid who was full of questions about everything. So after an evening of running around in the park, Anup sat down with Cooper to read him a book. The book had a bunch of pictures of different animals, so Anup decided to test Cooper on his knowledge of animals.

Anup: What does a dog say? Bhaw-bhaw.
Cooper: Lost for words. No a dog says woof-woof.

Anup looked at me smiling. I knew what he was thinking – may be an American dog says “woof-woof”, our Indian stray dogs said bhaw-bhaw. A “woof” would be just too polite for an Indian street dog when they were running after you – their ultimate goal of taking a chunk out of your butt! No, a bhaw is more appropriate. In our schools in India, we were taught different animal sounds compared to the western schools.

Anup: What does a donkey say? Hoochiee-Hoochiee.
Cooper: Laughs. You are silly! A donkey says Heee-haw!

Anup: Hey, you want to play a game on my phone?

Another word our family struggles with is “Salad”. For our families back home, its not Sa as in Sam, but Su as in Sun. So whether you call it a “Salad” or a “Sulaad”, here is one of my favorite Salads.

butternut-squash-salad-1 butternut-squash-salad-2

This salad is bold in flavor and can easily be your main meal. Whole wheat berry has a slightly sweet, nutty taste and the chewy texture is great for a salad. It retains shape and texture long after cooking, so you can cook it in bulk and refrigerate for later use. It can be used in most salads, soups and stews to add some texture. Wheat berry is packed with protein, fiber, iron and vitamin B. Whole wheat berry is the most unprocessed form of wheat. As you process any ingredient, it loses more and more of its nutrients – wheat berry to whole wheat flour to refined white flour.

I have used fennel for crunch and butternut squash for creaminess. I made my own pomegranate molasses to dress the salad. Pomegranate is high in antioxidants and has a lot of medicinal properties. This is one dish that you can overeat and feel good about it! Hope you enjoy it!


Wheat Berry and Butternut Squash Salad

Cook time:

serves 6

1 cup raw wheat berries
1 butternut squash – peeled, cubed
2 bulbs of fennel – sliced thin
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp capers
1/4 cup fresh dill – chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro – chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint – chopped
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup almonds – chopped
1 juice of lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper

Rinse wheat berries well. Measure 4 cups of water in a saucepan, add wheat berries. Add 1 tbsp salt, bring to boil. Reduce down and simmer until cooked, about an hour. Remove wheat berries from heat, drain and rinse under cool water. Alternatively you can soak wheat berries overnight to reduce the cooking time by half.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Peel butternut squash and dice to small cubes. Mix diced squash with olive oil, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast until lightly caramelized and soft but mot mushy, about 10-15 minutes.

Combine wheat berries, butternut squash, fennel, dill, cilantro, mint ( or use herbs of your choice), capers, pomegranate seeds and almonds. Drizzle the pomegranate molasses, mix well. Serve warm or cold. Garnish with roughly chopped almonds.

wheat-berry-salad-2 wheat-berry-salad-1

Pomegranate Molasses

4 cups of pomegranate juice
1/4 cup of honey
pinch of salt
1 tbsp lemon juice

In a large saucepan, mix the pomegranate juice, honey, salt and lemon juice. Bring to boil and reduce down to very low simmer. Stir every 10-15 minutes. Simmer for about an hour until reduced to 1 cup and juice has a syrupy consistency. The molasses should coat back of a spoon but you want to keep it on the runny side because cooling it down will thicken it up more. Pour the molasses in a jar, let it cool and refrigerate.



  1. lopa says

    its fun to read the story. makes me laugh :) we all came across the same situation at some point, thats turns into humour.
    your story is as interesting as your recipe.
    love your healthy recipes.

  2. says

    In Malaysia, we have our ways of pronouncing and speaking English. The standard is the “lah” at the back of every sentence we use which sounds so funny to foreigners. But I suppose that’s they way we are. And as for the salad, its colorful and surely nutritious. Salad is usually paired with rice and I am loving your version.

    • says

      Hey Lizzy, Quinoa/Barley/Couscous might be good substitutes for the wheat berries! Wish I knew what your diet limitations are, but if you are trying to avoid gluten – quinoa would be the best option.

  3. says

    What a funny post! Its amazing how different animal sounds are taught in diff counteries…but its true Indian street dogs do say bhow bhow :)))

    Lovely salad I wish I could get my hands on pomegranate molasses in India

    • says

      Aditi, I am sure Anup would appreciate someone agreeing that Indian street dogs say bhow-bhow :)

      Making pomegranate molasses would be easy if you can find 100% pure pomegranate juice at the store. Hope you find a way, the trouble is worth it!

  4. Alex F says

    Good job Medha,

    I heard that story once before – but I’m surprised he let you put it online!

    Your posts leave me smiling as always, and the salad is definitely going on my ‘must try’ list.

    Keep up the good work,

    Alex F

  5. says

    Interesting the way words are pronounced in different parts..funny post.
    The pomegranate molasses from scratch is such a nice touch, the wheat berry, I’ve not made that one in a while.
    A colorful salad.

  6. says

    Isn’t it something how the different sounds are interpreted the world over? This salad looks great, and in any language – it would be delicious!

  7. says

    That is is true I pronounced certain words differently. I remember last year when we stopped on the border crossing and were asked where we were heading, I said “Yakima” as in yak and then later on my daughter corrected that Yakima is pronounced as “Yeah ki ma” or Yackimaw. I guess your family is not struggling saying salad. When you talk in hindi it is called सलाद, there is no other word for it. But anyways, your salad with bold flavors sound delicious.

  8. says

    what a fun write up – us immigrants to go through an adjustment period! I was always stumped by some very american expressions – they’ve become such an integral part of my own vocabulary now.

    love the salad, never made pom molases but seems straight forward. I think the POM brand is 100% juice – I must check it out.

  9. says

    Yum! Love this healthy and delicious salad. I tried pomegranate syrup sometime back and used it for a salad but I think molasses will be far better with their intense flavors.

  10. says

    i generally speak English with an American accent but there are certain words i am not great at pronouncing. my husband says i have a reader’s vocabulary, where i know the words and their meaning but i do not know how to pronounce them sometimes.

    i think pomegranate and squash are the two main things that make the colder weather bearable for me, putting them together makes it even better.

    • says

      It happens to me too! I sometimes avoid using a word because I know the meaning but worries the person might not understand the way I pronounce it! Pomegranate is my winter repellent too!

  11. says

    This salad looks perfect! Love everything about it, and I’m always trying to think of ways to use up my pomegranate molasses.

    I also have little anecdotes like that… I came to the states when I was 10 and said things like “flat” instead of “apartment” and “lift” instead of “elevator…” Yeah. My childhood was not awkward at all. 😉

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