Growing up in a beautiful and vibrant boarding school, run by nuns, in Bengaluru, during the eighties, conjures up joyful memories.
Whilst, I fondly reminiscence the friendships, midnight feasts and newfound freedom, I truly missed my parents and my mom's delightful cooking.
The wonderful nuns who ran the kitchen cooked us fresh, balanced and hot meals daily. Most days were good days. However, the dreaded days when they lovingly adorned our plates with cooked pumpkin, boiled beetroot, curried meatballs (aka- soya chunks floating in a measly curry-called the 'UFO curry') was my worst nightmare. Just the overpowering smells of these dishes wafting through air was enough to kill the appetites of hungry boarders. Coming to the pumpkin, eating a boiled,mushy, sweet vegetable was unfathomable to me at the age of 9!
Fast forward to the present, I truly enjoy eating the pumpkin, be it as a roasted vegetable, or pureed in a spicy soup, in a cake or a halloween pie!
This curry also known as 'Huli' or 'Koddel' is made in most South Indian or Mangalorean homes when pumpkins are in season. It is a flavourful, spicy curry with tones of sweet and sour.
To make the curry, the pumpkin or squash is deskinned, cubed and cooked in salted water until tender. A mixture of roasted spices like dried chillies, whole coriander, cumin and mustard is ground with coconut and added to the cooked vegetable. Finally, season with whole spices. Serve with white rice or flat breads.
Serves-4, Preparation and Cooking time- 1 hour.
Ingredients for Pumpkin Koddel/Dudi Koddel:
Butternut Squash/ Pumpkin deskinned and cubed- 3 cups
Onion- 1 medium sized sliced.
Salt- 1 tsp
Ingredients for the spice paste/masala:
1. Coconut or any other cooking oil- 2 tsps
2. Whole mustard seeds- 1 tsp
3. Whole Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
4. Whole Coriander seeds- 3 tsps
5. Fenugreek seeds- 3-4seeds -Optional
6. Kashmiri red chilly powder- 2tsps or Paprika powder-2 tsps.( *If using any other chilli powder reduce quantity to 1/2 or 1 tsp)
7. Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
8. Grated fresh coconut- 1 medium size handful.
(*If fresh coconut is not available, use dried coconut soaked in warm water for 20 minutes, drained and squeezed, before roasting)
9. Tamarind paste- 2-3 tsps (substitute with lemon juice)
*If using tamarind concentrate use half the quantity.
Ingredients for the Tempering:
1. Coconut Oil/cooking oil- 2 Tbsps
2. Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
3. Crushed garlic cloves- 3 medium size
4. Cumin seeds- 1/4 tsp
5. Dried red chilli- 1 no cut into 2 (optional)
6. Curry leaves- 6 leaves (optional)
7. Hing/asoefatida- a pinch
1. Cook the pumpkin
Place the cubed pumpkin pieces and sliced onion in a wide bottom pan, add water to just about cover the pumpkin pieces. Add a tsp of salt to the water and bring it to boil on a medium flame. Cook for 7-8 minutes. Check in between. The pumpkin/squash should still be slightly firm but cooked. Turn off the heat and keep aside.
2. Prepare the Spice paste
Heat oil in a small roasting pan on a low flame. Add the whole coriander seeds, mustard seeds and lastly cumin seeds, in that order and gently stir to fry. Once the seeds are roasted they will be fragnant- should take about 2 mins on a low flame.
3. Add the chilli powder, turmeric powder and fry for another 30 seconds before adding the freshly grated coconut and roasting for a further 1 minute. You don't need to brown the coconut. Turn off the heat and take the pan off the stove. Allow to cool.
Once cooled, grind this mixture with tamarind juice/concentrate just a little water, until it forms a smooth paste. If the spice paste is not as smooth as needed-add a tbsp more water and blend again to get a very smooth paste.
4. Next add the smooth ground paste to the cooked pumpkin and gently stir to mix in. Put the curry back on a low flame, bring to a gently simmer, adjust gravy consistency to you liking. Add hot water to make a slightly thinner gravy. Taste. If you like the curry a bit more tangy add a bit more tamarind juice/lemon juice at this stage. Taste for salt and adjust. Now the curry is almost done.
5. For the Tempering/Phon
Take a small pan, heat the oil on a med to high flame, when hot add the mustard seeds, when the seeds begin to pop, add the crushed garlic flakes-fry for a minute until aromatic, then add the dried red chillies, cumin seeds, hing and curry leaves. Stir fry for another 10 seconds. Add the prepared seasoning over the curry and close the lid for a few minutes. Just before serving gently stir in the seasoning into the curry.
Serve with white rice or flat breads. I served it with a rava roti and a portion of curried pork/dukramaas.
1. You can add a single can of cooked beans like Butter beans/Chick peas to this dish for varied textures. If using canned beans drain the water and add the beans to the pumpkin and onions in Step 1.
Enjoy. Look forward to hearing your feedback.