South Indian pumpkin recipe – vegetarian and vegan friendly!

First and foremost, let’s establish the obvious: I’m a terrible blogger. It has been months and I am so sorry. I don’t think apologising every time is going to change anything, so I just hope you’ll understand that a potato kidnapped me and wouldn’t let me blog recipes. Moving on…

I recently found out that not many people have tried pumpkin before. Waaa? You’re crazy! Pumpkin is delicious! So, to expand your taste buds, I have a very simple South Indian pumpkin recipe that you’ll love. Yeah, you’ll love it, marry it and have pumpkin babies… *awkward silence*. This recipe is especially dedicated to my cousin, Khalyani, who is living a dream of a life in Nicaragua. More on that later, first: the recipe for this pumpkin…I-don’t-know-what-the-word-is. It’s not a ‘kootu’ (Tamil for ‘add’ – in essence it’s a dish that has lentils in it, that has less liquid than sambhar, but it’s not dry). It’s also not really a ‘poriyal’ (Tamil for a dish that has been shallow-fried). I guess it’s closer to being a pumpkin poriyal, but it’s not…this isn’t important. Now, where were we? Aha, the recipe!

Firstly, you want to grab a pan, heat it up and to this pan, add gingelly oil. Gingelly oil is pretty much the same as sesame oil, except it has a touch of jaggery (pure, unrefined cane sugar) in it. If you can’t find gingelly oil, you can use normal light sesame oil. To the oil, you want to add half a tsp of mustard seeds, 1 tsp of cumin seeds, 1 tsp of fennel seeds and a tsp of toor dal (optional). If you do use gingelly oil, you’ll notice that it froths, as soon as you add the seeds and dal to it. This is normal, don’t worry. It’s just to do with the melting and heating temperatures of the jaggery in the sesame oil.

As soon as it starts frothing and doing its thing, add 1 tsp of turmeric powder and mix for a literal few seconds. Then, add in the pumpkin. I’ve cut up half a small blue/green pumpkin into small, inch cubes. The pumpkin I used, I believe, is a Queensland blue pumpkin; its skin is a blue/green colour, but the inside is a beautiful orange.

To the pumpkin, add salt to your taste and mix gently. You’ll see that the pumpkin starts to pick up the turmeric and the beautiful orange colour intensifies.

Next, add some crushed red chilli flakes. I added about three-quarters of a tbsp, but obviously this is dependent on your spice intake. Add more or less, that’s all up to you! Give it a good, gentle mix once you have added it.

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After you have mixed the crushed red chilli flakes in, add three-quarters of a cup of cold water and half a tsp of cinnamon powder. Give it a gentle fold. You will most likely notice that the consistency has become a little thick, perhaps a little mushy as well. Typically, this is eaten with some sort of flatbread, so the pumpkin has to be soft. By folding it gently, you will be retaining most of the pumpkin in its normal shape. Once you have folded the cinnamon in, put a lid on the pan and let it simmer for a good ten minutes. Make sure you fold it gently, every so often. The water will reduce and the dish will become less mushy and more dry.

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After ten minutes, it’s done! I really like eating couscous with this – probably not a normal combination, but it is so yum!

There you have it! If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment below. I hope you all start eating more pumpkin, you’re really missing out. Pumpkin pie doesn’t count!

Continuing from before, Khalyani and Rafał write a brilliant blog about their adventures in Nicaragua, and other parts of Central America. They gave up their consultancy jobs, in Europe, and are now living over there with two languages between them – very brave! Find out more about their ventures and the people they have met during their amazing travels: www.trailwinds.me.

Until next time! (I won’t get kidnapped by a potato, again!)

 

I’m vegetarian for another few months. Uh oh…

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I recently turned vegetarian. I know, I know, I feel your sympathies, but do not fear! It’s only for a few months. Why you ask? Let me explain.

My Mother brought us up to follow a Hindu custom; be vegetarian for two days in the week (Tuesdays and Fridays) to detox your body from all the meat that you consume. That didn’t work with me. I am a 100% happy carnivore. Or was shall I say? I read in Steve Jones’ book, In The Blood: God, Genes and Destiny, that blood group was once thought to hold personality traits, in Ancient Japan. I’m an O+, which apparently goes well with large amounts of protein. Who would have guessed? But that all changed.

I have a few issues with religion in itself – don’t get me wrong, I believe in God completely. I just get frustrated when people can’t justify “religious” things that they do. I have asked many Hindus if they know the reason behind their vegetarianism on certain days; 99% do not know. They just do it because their parents told them to. As a result from my understanding and perception of religion, I only become vegetarian when I want to. Not because it’s Tuesday or Friday or whatever other day. Because I feel the need to detox my body, to cleanse it from the “negative karma”, if you will, and be that one step closer to Godliness. But only when my heart (or soul, who knows!) wants, and feels, it is time to. And that’s exactly what’s happening now. I was vegetarian for a month back in August – and that went well…except for my intense craving for Nandos after about a week! However, when I decided to become vegetarian this time around, it felt a lot more different. I didn’t have that aching crave for hot wings, Nandos or my Mum’s mutton curry. I felt lighter, happier and so much more emotionally and physically better. My skin was looking good, I lost quite a bit of weight. It was amazing. Until I saw my Mum make her mutton curry again. It all went down the pan from there.

I don’t know what came over me. I had all these visions of me eating just the curry, and not the actual mutton. It. Was. Crazy. That’s when I realised the real reason behind this vegetarianism. Self-control. I always thought I had enormous amounts of self-control, but evidently I do not. So this is my challenge now, it’s taken a whole different spin. Forget cleansing my body and mind. It’s Mind Vs Body! My body will crave, stomach will rumble – but it’s up to my mind to not give in.

There is another upside to this. I’ve eaten different varieties of food, which I wouldn’t normally eat. I’ve grown to like broccoli (five-year old me is crying right now), and I even enjoy eating kidney beans – only if they’re mixed with something else. But still, baby steps forward.

If I do cave in, don’t worry, you’ll hear about it. Probably followed up by a rant about how vegetarianism is horrible etc. It really isn’t. It’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be. And I’m not going to pretend, I still get huge cravings…but the mind is winning so far.

How will it end? Only time will tell.

Have you got any vegetarian recipes I could try? Comment below, and I’ll give them a go! (ooh that rhymed!)

Until next time, have an awesomesauce day!