Pumpkin in Bengali & Indian Cooking: Things to Know

If you talk about pumpkin, most people of urban Gen Y will relate it to Halloween. This festival is an import from the west but Indians seem to be quite enthusiastic about it.

However, this versatile vegetable is also loved for its rich nutrition profile and the delicious touch that it lends to many dishes.

It’s an all-season vegetable available round the year. In this blog, we will take a quick look at versatile uses of pumpkin in Indian cuisines and also take on a few common queries about this vegetable.

Cooking pumpkin

Use of Pumpkin in Bengali and Indian Cuisines

Pumpkin is one of the most commonly used vegetables in Indian cuisines. Some dishes exclusively use pumpkin whereas others involve pumpkin and other veggies.

Fries:

Kumro bhaja is a common pumpkin dish in Bengal. Add coarsely grated coconut for the crunchy bite and taste enhancement.

You can also sprinkle poppy seeds instead of coconut. It also tastes good. Kumro bhaja is one of the five fries on the thali served to a person on his or her birthday.

Kaddu pokora is a wonderful snack. Pumpkin fritters are served after religious fasting. They are crispy on the outside and tender from inside.

They are usually prepared during navratri celebration. These crispy snacks can be prepared on any regular day.

Breakfast:

Pumpkin paratha is a simple and quick recipe. It brings both nutrition and taste to your breakfast table. The delicious flatbread is prepared from pumpkin, wheat flour and a few herbs and spices.

Curries:

Aloo-kumror tarkari (potato & pumpkin curry) is the simplest yet most famous Bengali pumpkin dish. It is best to go with roti or luchi.

You can also serve it with steamed rice and plain dal. Small cubes of potatoes and pumpkin are cooked together and mixed with turmeric and coriander powder to whip up the delicious curry.

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You can add green chillies. The traditional recipe does not use any onion or garlic but you can certainly give it a twist.

Some people add grated coconut for extra sweetness and it makes the dish truly awesome.

Kumro diye pui shak is an amazing combination of pumpkin with the leafy vegetable. It is so delicious that you can eat a plateful of rice with the curry.

Bongs add bari (fried lentil dumpling) to the curry. Bari soaks in the flavourful gravy and tastes very soft and sumptuous. However, this curry tastes best when it is cooked with poppy paste.

In our neighbouring state Orissa, pumpkin is cooked with potato and channa dal. It is one of the most sought-after, household dishes in the Land of Jagannatha.

The sweetness of pumpkin finely balances the spicy dal. Rich in nutrition, this ‘potato-pumpkin in chana dal’ recipe is also loved for its amazing taste. Try it with rice or puri to relish the divine taste that it offers.

Kaddu sabji, also known as peetha sabji, is a must prepare during Ekadashi or Navratri fasting. However, it can be prepared on any day of the year.

This North Indian curry is different from the Bong-style pumpkin curry preparation. Fresh coriander leaves are sprinkled at the end of cooking.

Khatta-mitha kaddu is a North Indian delicacy. The simple dish is a wonderful blend of sweetness of pumpkin and sourness of amchur powder. You can also add jiggery for extra sweetness.

Travel down the south and you will get to explore an interesting variety of pumpkin delicacies.

Pumpkin erissery is a famous traditional dish from Kerala and a must-serve during onam sadya. The light dish is tempered with coconut and cowpeas.

Avial is another traditional recipe from the God’s Own Country and served during sadya.

Pumpkin, cut in the shape of French fries, is cooked with the mixed vegetables in coconut-based curd gravy. The lingering sweet-sour taste will make you insanely greedy.

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Kerala pumpkin pachadi is an Ayurvedic recipe rich in the goodness of parangikai or yellow pumpkin.

The vegetable is first pressure-cooked and then allowed to absorb flavours of a spicy coconut mixture that adds subtle sweetness to the dish.

This nutritious recipe is an absolute delight for the food connoisseurs.

Kootu curry is a famous dish in Kerala. Yellow pumpkin is cooked with black eyed beans and chana dal and tempered with coconut.

Kuvalyacho pollav is an authentic Mangalorean recipe that explores the richness of sautéed onion and goodness of pumpkin on a coconut base.

The authentic recipe uses sun-dried coconut and onion. However, due to lifestyle change and scantiness of time, people now sauté coconut and onion on the pan.

But the true flavours always come from the time-consuming effort that goes into making the traditional recipe.

Tangy pumpkin curry is an easy and quick side dish that soaks in the tanginess of tamarind.

Use of pumpkin takes the health benefits of this simple dish to another level. You can pair it with chapatis or parathas.

Pumpkin is also a hot favourite in our coastal regions mostly known for their fish and meat preparations.

Goan pumpkin sabji gives a subtle twist to regular pumpkin sabji. It goes well with both steamed rice and laccha paratha.

Sambar & Raita:

Any kind of sambar is a light, nutrition-packed and delicious preparation. Poosanikai sambar is an onion and garlic free South Indian recipe prepared with pumpkin, curry leaves, dry chillies and a few spices cooked in tur dal.

Lobia pumpkin sambar is another South Indian sambar variety. The traditional Karnataka dish is prepared with pumpkin and black eye peas (chawli or lobia).

Pumpkin raita is a simple preparation with roasted pumpkin dunked into yogurt. The pumpkin-yogurt combination is an absolutely nutritious and delicious dish served with the main course. It is also enjoyed with paratha.

Deserts:

Pumpkin is a favoured vegetable to prepare some of the yummiest dessert recipes. Pumpkin halwa is a very simple but amazingly tasty recipe. If you don’t have the luxury of time, use a pressure cooker to prepare the dish.

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Grated pumpkin is slow cooked in milk and mixed with khoya, sugar and dry fruits. Cardamom powder is added to enhance flavour.

Pumpkin kheer or pumpkin payesh is an easy, flavoursome, traditional Navratri special. Grated pumpkin is cooked in milk and garnished with dry fruits.

Pumpkin and muffin – oh yes, it’s very much possible and delectable too! The eggless, refined sugar free and dairy-free muffins get flavours from dry ginger, nutmeg powder and cinnamon.

Is Pumpkin Tasty?

Most pumpkins are mildly sweet in taste. Some pumpkins are, however, bland. Depending upon the dishes you are making out of it.

It is actually making it tasty and good in its own way.

What Can Be Made from Pumpkins?

There are several dishes that use pumpkin either exclusively or with some other vegetables.

It is used to make delicious curry, nutritious snacks and even mouth-watering desserts.

Pumpkins and potato veggies, roast pumpkin soups, pumpkin and spinach pie, pumpkin halwa, hing pumpkin, pumpkin and sitaphal recipe etc.

Questions & Answers:

What Flavours Go Well with Pumpkin?

Pumpkins are sweet in taste. Therefore, spicy or tangy flavours go well with it as they work like a balancing agent. All these things are giving you a better idea in dealing with it.

How Do You Know When Pumpkin is Cooked?

Pumpkin looks a little bit mushy when it is properly cooked. Pumpkin is soft and so does not take much time to get cooked. It becomes soft and mushy which is definitely getting the best in the lot.

What Goes Well with Pumpkin?

Both roti and rice go well with pumpkin. Some pumpkin recipes are best enjoyed with paratha, puri or other kinds of Indian wheat breads.

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