Pumpkin: before & after
Red pumpkin or Laal/Tambda Bhopla (Marathi) or Kaddu (Hindi) is poor man’s source of carotene in India. Other sources (like apples, carrots) normally happen to be rather expensive when not in the peak of season. Red pumpkin, however, is ‘in season’ throughout the year unlike in the Western countries, where it is typically an Autumn appearance. I get my supply of this vegetable after Halloween from a Turkish vegetable vendor nearby. In case it is not available in your area, Butternut Squash can be used as a substitute.
My childhood memories of this vegetable are of a story, which goes ‘Chal re bhoplya tunuk tunuk’. It is about a clever old woman, who on the way to her daughter’s place happens to be passing through a jungle. A fox sees her, and sees her as his lunch. He tells her that he wants to eat her. (What a sophisticated, polite fox!) She tells him that he wouldn’t enjoy it much because she is all bones and skin. However, she gives him the idea, that he could perhaps eat her on her way back. Because then she would be well-fed by her daughter. The convinced fox lets her go. After a few days, when the clever old woman has to come back, she takes a large pumpkin from her daughter and carves it in a way, where she can be inside the pumpkin with her head, arms and legs sticking out. The pumpkin practically looks like a round torso then. When she sees the fox again in the jungle, she just runs and the fox never manages to catch her because she is in that too-large-to-grab pumpkin. While running, she keeps telling the pumpkin to go faster, which is ‘Chal re bhoplya tunuk tunuk’.
Do you have any such stories from your childhood? Please let me know.
In the meanwhile, the recipe for Red Pumpkin Raita.
Clockwise from left: cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, green chillis, coriander leaves, asafoetida
approx. 500 grams red pumpkin (once cut, the pieces should be about three cups full)
1 tbsp oil
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds (optional)
½ tsp cumin seeds
a generous pinch asafoetida
1-2 chopped green chillis
¼ cup beaten yoghurt
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste
4 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts (readymade roasted peanuts are fine; in case you want make them from scratch, read this post by Indira of Mahanandi )
some chopped coriander leaves for garnishing
1. Peel and chop the pumpkin coarse. Cook it with some water till soft. Alternatively, pressure-cook the pumpkin without water for 5-7 minutes. Wait till the pressure dies down. Take out the cooked pumpkin pieces and keep aside.
The cooked pumpkin keeps well in the refrigerator for several days, if stored in an air-tight container. It comes in handy, whenever you need to make Raita.
2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the fenugreek seeds, if using. Add cumin seeds and wait until they pop. Add the asafoetida.
3. Now add the green chillis and the pumpkin pieces.
4. Sauté the mixture on medium heat until the pumpkin pieces start falling apart while stirring.
5. Turn the heat off.
6. Take the sautéed pumpkin out into the bowl, in which you want to serve it. Let it rest partly covered until cooled down.
7. Once it is cool, add the sugar, crushed peanuts, yoghurt and salt to taste.
8. Garnish with coriander leaves.
9. Serve at room temperature or chilled with rice / chapattis and any kind of curry. Goes well with spicy rice preparations like Biryanis, too.