Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin cravings

 

Don't you just love the fact that once the calender gets to September/ October, a flurry of festivals begin cropping up all over the world? In India, its Navratri, followed by Diwali, Kartigai, a South Indian festival that makes its appearance anywhere from 15 days to a month & a half after Diwali coinciding with the full moon in the Indian month of Karthik, I guess it commemorates the harvest moon.
Others that come to mind, The Moon Festival celebrated in the Far East,  Halloween , Guy Fawkes day, .. Oh boy, the list could potentially go on and on. 
 I'm not entirely sure, but it may be due to the colder months & shorter days that mankind found ways of socially celebrating events to keep from the depressive nature of this part of the year.

    Back to my own little sphere of a comfort zone, the vegetable I've most commonly come to associate with Fall is the big fat Pumpkin. There's a whole Bubba's list of what one could create with this thick skinned fruit, but one that really caught my attention & got me going was this post by D K from the site Chefinyou.  rather a tutorial on how to make pumpkin puree. I was freshly back reeling from an awesome book signing session with Iron Chef Bobby Flay



and one of the samples served was a divine pumpkin soup.
That was it, I just HAD to try roasting an entire pumpkin at home. Never mind what I would make out of it.. I would cross that bridge when I came to it.
So off I went, to my neighboring farm, 


& picked out a suitable candidate


Came home, cut & quartered ol' Jack,


removed the innards, 



& popped the pieces into the oven at 400 F for about 45 minutes.

& Voila!, An indescribably delicious flesh, I could have finished off with a teaspoon, (I almost did). Roasted pumpkin has the aroma of fresh grilled corn with a texture thats out of this world..no salt or pepper needed, at most, a spritz of lime.
Rest assured I would not be up writing this if it were simply a post on roasted pumpkin, This weeks recipe is a Roasted pumpkin, coconut & sesame bisque, inspired by a traditional South Indian pumpkin stew known as 'Thalagam'. Thalagam is served as an offering for Lord Shiva during the festival of thiruvadirai, celebrated in Late December/ January. Its usually paired with jaggery sweetened rice grits known as kali. The combination of redolent nutty spiciness & the earthy sweetness of the unrefined jaggery, the combination is magical. Its worth the prayers! 
After brainstorming & clarifying the family recipe with my cousin Uma in Ohio, comes this warming & comforting soup.

Roasted pumpkin, coconut & sesame bisque (serves 2-3)




Coconut Sesame Paste:

1/2 cup fresh frozen grated coconut
1 tablespoon Split dehusked Urad Dal
1 tablespoon split garbanzo beans (chana dal)
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon plain uncooked rice grains
_______________________


2 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree from a roasted pumpkin
1/2-1 teaspoon tamarind extract
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1-2 cup water
Salt to taste
Dollops of creme Fraiche or sour cream
1 tablespoon ghee
1 sprig curry leaves

To obtain the pumpkin puree, cut wedges of pumpkin removing the seeds & the central 'webbing' , brush with olive oil & bake in a 400 F oven for about 45 minutes to 1 hr. Allow to cool & scoop out the required amount (2 cups) of pumpkin. 


  • In a skillet on low heat, toast the coconut till it turns a reddish brown. Set aside.


  •  
  • Using the same pan, dry roast all the lentils, rice & the fenugreek till they turn a light brown color, add these to the coconut & repeat the process for the sesame & arbol chiles (cut the chiles into pieces to facilitate browning). Toast the sesame till the seeds begin popping.

  • Combine all the ingredients together and grind to a smooth paste using as little water as possible. Set aside 
  • In a crock pot, combine the pumpkin puree, tamarind extract, turmeric, salt and water and cook on medium heat till the flavors combine (~ 15 min)



  • Add the sesame & coconut spice blend to the pumpkin mix and simmer on a low heat for about 15 minutes, adding extra water if the mix is too thick. The predominating aroma will be that of the toasted sesame.

  • Remove from heat, allow to cool. Process in a blender till smooth & strain (the toasted dals & coconut will otherwise add a gritty component to the texture.). Simmer on low heat to maintain the level of warmth you prefer.
  • Heat the ghee on low heat, add the curry leaves and allow to fry till they're crisp (but still retain their green color) 
  • Serve warm with a dollop of Creme Fraiche or sour cream and garnished with the crisp curry leaves. 
& remember ol' Jack's Innards???? well thats an 'elephant head' (I'll explain then) recipe for another day!!

'Anai thalai' (elephants head) chutney!
 Bon Appetit!

Entering this dish for Edible Entertainments 'Healthy cooking challenge' .

5 comments:

  1. Thats a delish & hearty soup Niv!!!!
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. thats an interesting pumpkin recipe.. :) I gottu try this for sure.. Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  3. stunning photographs! thanks for linking it to my event! :) Looking forward to more entries!
    -
    Kavi | Edible Entertainment
    Ongoing event: Healthy Lunch Challenge

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello, I'm rounding up entries for my Healthy Lunch Event. I wanna mention the names too. I've searched your blog & all I find is that you are an Iyer! :) Can you please tell me your name?! As of now, your entry reads: from Panfusine Mommy :D (Please drop a comment on one of my posts so that I know)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Nivedita! Thanks so much for linking your entry to my HCC event & making it a huge success! Find your entry in the Roundup Part I , Part II or Part III (to be uploaded tomorrow)

    I would love to have your entries in my ongoing events:
    Jingle All The Way &
    Microwave Easy Cooking
    Have a great day!
    -
    Kavi | Edible Entertainment

    ReplyDelete

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