In the summers when the pumpkin patch would bloom, my grandmother would watch with hawk eyes, expertly pointing out the male and female blossoms. The swollen female blossoms were tended to very lovingly, they would after all be the providers of sweet, juicy and delicious pumpkins. By mid summer fully grown pumpkins will be basking and ripening under the summer sun.
Already pumpkin starts figuring heavily on the family lunch menu. Few of the male blossoms have been roasted and incorporated into chutneys, few precious one have been batter fried, pumpkin leaves are chopped up and cooked into stir fries, the family not wasting any part of the pumpkin prelude.
A good harvest will mean all kinds of stews, chutneys and curries made of pumpkin. Even then a few pumpkins are too ripe and too sweet for curries, these are grated and boiled with milk, sugar, and cardamom, until they are caramalised and then eaten as halwa. Some pumpkins are chopped, steamed, mildly spiced and then sun dried, to be fried later as snacks or a crunchy accompaniment to an elaborate sunday lunch. And always, always a pumpkin or two were allowed to ripen, and, the seeds from these, dried, mixed with ash, wrapped in a piece of newspaper, secured with jute cord and put away for another summer.
Pumpkin pachchadi is just another regular home food that was prepared by my grandmother who had the greatest task of all, cooking up all the summer pumpkins and making sure it always tasted different, exciting and delicious.
2 cups pumpkin, chopped
1 cup coconut, grated
1/2 cup yoghurt, whipped
1 tablesoon whole mustard
1 teaspoon turmeric
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon coconut oil/cooking oil
1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
2 sun dried whole, red chilly
1. In a covered saucepan, on medium heat, cook the chopped pumpkin along with salt, turmeric and a sprinkling of water until soft.
2. In the meantime, make a coarse paste of grated coconut, mustard and yoghurt, in your blender.
3. When the pumpkin is cooked, reduce the flame to a low, add the coconut mustard paste, and combine. Cover and let simmer for about 2, 3 minutes.
4. For the seasoning, heat oil in another saucepan, fry the mustard, red chilly and curry leaves, and pour over the cooked pachchadi.
Pachchadi is a great accompaniment to a meal, ofcourse it can be the main meal as well. This particular pachchadi combines 6 tastes, sweetness from the pumpkin, pungency of mustard, tartness from curds, salt and spice from the chilly, the addition of turmeric ofcourse always take care of the three basic tastes in any case – bitter, pungent & astringent.