I remember the first change of seasons in Boston. Suddenly the air was chillier, the greenery was missing, all the restaurant menus changed, and lo and behold, there was pumpkin everywhere, in all shapes and sizes, from the pumpkin-spiced lattes to the pumpkin pies to the Halloween decorations.
It was October 2006, when I realised that pumpkin definitely is the king of fall.
The next September, I was at it myself, doing my own versions of pumpkin specials from Achaari Pumpkin Raviolis to Pumpkin Rasam, and the most selling, pumpkin Halwa Bake with cardamom ice cream. In trying to marry these Indian flavour combinations with the American pumpkin, I realised that our kaddu, which undoubtedly ranks among the Indian child’s most hated dishes, has actually a lot to offer !!!
When trying out various flavour combinations, two dishes struck me the most to further establish the Indian expertise to deftly combine complex flavours :
1. Pumpkin Elissery from Kerala that gels the sweetness of coconut and pumpkin and then spiked up with curry leaves and chilies.
2. Kumro Chingri Botti, a Bengali dish with prawns, potato and pumpkin, scented with the quintessential Bengali spice mix, panch-phoran.
Oh! of course.. now the medicinal properties to further have your buy in. Pumpkin seeds/pepitas have antioxidant and anti-diabetic qualities. These are roasted and eaten semi husked or de-husked. They are also crushed and rolled for pumpkin-seed oil, a personal favourite for fall salad dressings….
Here’s a sweet recipe to close the pumpkin page..
WHITE PUMPKIN HALWA
2 cups grated white pumpkin
1 cup sugar
½ cup grated sugarless khova
2 tbsps ghee
A pinch of cardamom seeds powder
Dry fruits to garnish
1. Squeeze out the water from the grated pumpkin. Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a pan and fry pumpkin till moisture is absorbed.
2. Add sugar and cook till it is ¾th cooked.
3. Add sugarless khova and cook till halwa consistency is reached.
4. Add 1 tbsp ghee when the halwa starts leaving the sides of the pan. Sprinkle cardamom powder, dry fruits and remove.