In this post: Pumpkin Spiced-Curry Recipe & details about our Kerala Tour!
It doesn't seem it, but, it's winter in Hong Kong. Which means, pumpkins are in season!
Not going to lie, I'm usually not even a fan of pumpkins... unless I'm pretending to be basic and sipping on a pumpkin spiced latte. I did it once. never again. I mean, let's be real, I love spices, but please, why mess with my caffeine?! So, you get the picture, pumpkins are (or shall I say, "were") rarely on the menu and neither do I seek it out when I go to restaurants.
But when it's in season, and literally all the shelves are full of pumpkin based goods, AND for the first time in EVER you're completely vegetarian, you decide to try it out. Since Achha (translation: dad) loves pumpkin in only one form, cooked the traditional Kerala way - as a pumpkin erissery. Well, challenge: ACCEPTED. I had to try it, right? See if it impresses the discerning taste buds of the fam jam?
Seriously, you guys. It's AMAZING. It's got a whole different layer of flavours. Initially, once you add the coconut paste, it tastes decent - delicious, but I felt like it lacked a certain oomph. But, boy, did that 'oomph' come. Once I added the toasted coconut tempering, the dish took on an entire life of its own. Suffice it to say, dad was well impressed and now, pumpkin is on the menu!
It's creamy, sweet, savoury and full of aromatic spices and flavours. If you've seen my previous dish of Sweet and Spicy Mango Curry, you know I love a play on my palate! With the added tempering, while you don't get the crunch of the toasted coconut - the pumpkin remains the star - the toasted coconut imparts a heavenly flavour. Note: it took serious willpower NOT to eat all the tempering hehe, whoops!
A nice toasty bowl of this spiced pumpkin curry, atop steamed rice - this, this is what life's about. Or, you pack as much as you can into a nice tupperware container, with rice on the side, take it to work and wow your colleagues with your master chef skillz. No takeaways for me! The tasty life.
Slight tangent here, but since I mentioned it earlier... Onam is basically the Kerala harvest festival, celebrated during September according to the Gregorian Calendar. Actual dates are dependent on the lunar calendar, followed in Kerala.
As most festivals go, it's usually accompanied by delicious food. Onam is no excpetion. Onam Sadya is what the completely vegetarian spread is called and, traditionally, served on a banana leaf (woohoo, less washing up AND environmentally friendly!).
Sadya, in general, is what you call the variety of different curries that accompanies rice. There are at least 10 different dishes accompanying rice, papadom and banana. It's definitely something to try!
Speaking of things to try, I and a group of friends are headed to Kerala and among eating our way through Kerala, temple hopping and houseboat riding, eating on banana leaves is DEFINITELY on our list of things to do.
Quick plug, if you're keen, this is something my dad and I at AYURFIT have introduced! An insider in Kerala to show you some of its traditions. <3
1. Take soaked red beans, place in pressure cooker with 1 and 1/2 cups water, salt and cook (approx 3 whistles). Once cooked, drain and set aside.
2. Clean pumpkin, peel and chop into cubes.
3. Add cubes and 1 cup water in a wok/ pan. Add turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt. Cover and cook on low flame till cooked (approx 12-15 minutes). While cooking, stir occasionally and check if there's sufficient water. If dry, add more water and continue cooking.
4. In a grinder, grind grated coconut, green chilli, cumin and 1/2 cup water. Grind to a smooth paste.
5. Add coconut paste to pumpkin. Add in red beans. If consistency is too thick, add 1/2 cup more water. Stir well. Remove from flame and cover with lid.