Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Red Pumpkin Raita (For some, Laal Bhoplyache Bharit)

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.

Serves 4.

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.

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Ashwini said...

you snap the veges v well Vaishali. it almost looks good :-) obviously I dont like the pumpkin very much but yes the raita was ok if I dumped a tsp of sugar in it. You brought back some memories!

Santhi said...

I had never heard the story before... Very nice....

Vaishali said...

Thanks, Ashwini.

I had great trouble recalling the story, Santhi, but it did all come back in the end.

Lakshmi said...

never heard of the pumpkin raita recipe before. looks nice

Unknown said...

nice one vaishali! recipe sounds yum.


Vineela said...

Hai Vaishali,
U r raita looks yummy and colorful and Healthy also.

Vaishali said...

Thanks, Lakshmi, Saffron Hut and Vineela. Do let me know in case you try it out. And yes, it IS very healthy.

sailu said...

That's a nice story,Vaishali.
This is a new recipe to me.Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Chal re bhoplya tunuk tunuk! OMG! It's been years!! Like Ashwini, I can't say I like bhopla very much. I think the pumpkin pies that abound during 'holiday time' in the US are over-rated. The one time I do enjoy bhopla is when it is cooked with guvar (cluster beans). Yes, I am strange that way. I actually like guvar! But then I don't like kale vatane yet I lke them with guvar.

I wish I remembered all the stories my mother told me. I remember some poems - "Chandomama! Chandomama! Bhaglaas ka? Limbonichya jhaada maage laplaas ka?..."

And the one that came in real handy when my daughter was little was: "Ek hoti chiu-tai. Ek hota kawle-dada. Chiu-taiche ghar hota menache. Kawle-dadache ghar hota shenache. Ek divshi kaay jhale? ..."


Anonymous said...

hey, i just finished telling that story to my son b4 I sat for my daily dose of blogging. My son loves that "Chal re bhoplya tunak tunak thing"....I doubt he hears the rest of the story :) and yes manisha the kavlya and chiu-tai story too...ahhhh, memories!

Anonymous said...

I just say your name...I am a Kamath, too and that too with the "h" or rather was until I got married.

Vaishali said...

Sailu, do let me know if you try it out.

Hey Manisha, you are bringing back some fond memories now. Btw, how do you make guvar with pumpkin? I like both, so I guess I should like the combination as well.

Vee, that's too much information you are giving out! :) If you are not a Kamath with the 'h' after marriage any more, what are you now? ;)

Aspiring Annapoorna said...

Yes yes...the chal-re-bhoplya story was such fun :)

Vaishali said...

AA, thanks for stopping by.

Asha said...

Looks so colorfully wonderful!! I have never cooked red halloween pumpkin but canned one's and butter squash!! I will give this a try this fall,thanks!!

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