from one generation to the next
Delicious memories of India and pumpkin curries enriched with the sweet flavour of coconut inspired this recipe.
During an afternoon of hands-on cooking at a charming little holiday village surrounded by spice plantations high on the Western Ghats of Kerala, I was introduced to the flavour synergy of pumpkin, curry leaf and coconut. The recipe I brought away with me involves intense and laborious processes before you can even begin to cook, but having wisely discarded the hare-brained notion of grating fresh coconuts to make rich and unctuous extractions of coconut milk myself so all I had to do was pop the lid on a can of coconut milk.
While my recipe was inspired by the Pumpkin Kootu from The Spice Village, the ingredient list is different and so is the method. The flavour however brings memories flooding back to me.
Spicy pumpkin, coconut and curry leaf – serves 4 with other dishes
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 sprig curry leaves (12-14)
600g peeled pumpkin cut into chunks 4cm X 4cm
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1 green chilli, deseeded and sliced
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup thick coconut milk
Heat the oil in a wide shallow pan over a medium heat.
Add the mustard, cumin seeds and curry leaves. Fry until they sizzle and pop.
Add the pumpkin, chilli, ginger, turmeric salt and water.
Stir to thoroughly combined, bring to pan to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer then cover tightly and leave over a low heat until the pumpkin is cooked, 10-15 minutes.
Shake the pan from time to time to ensure the pumpkin doesn’t stick but avoid stirring the pumpkin.
Uncover the pan, then turn up the heat and rapidly reduce the liquid until almost dry.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the coconut milk and very gently mix it through the pumpkin.