Curry that Pumpkin

We woke up to Jingle Bells on Saturday morning. It was bad enough that I was squashed between two people who I could not out-snore. Then to wake up to Christmas music, in the middle of Diwali, while it's still Fall, now that's outright blasphemy. Add to it the misery of not being able to find the remote to turn the darned thing off! And when I found it, it was yanked from my hands: Mumma! It's Christmas music! They're playing Christmas music! Jingle bells! Jingle Bells! Jingle all the way! She then proceeded to dance through the house, turning on every device that had a radio. I was not sure which was worse, the music or a chirpy person first thing in the morning.

It took me a while to get used to Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving. It may be hard to believe but I actually love Christmas music. Especially Christmas carols. But I get sick of it when that's the only thing playing on the radio. Now I have press all the buttons on my Bose and hope to set the alarm to another radio station. I sleep through the beep-beep-beep-beeeeeeep, all 90 seconds of it. I never hear it because it is predictable. Radio is different. It could be a song that brings back memories leading to a warm morning snuggle, it could be the talk-show host being her annoying self, it could be a bad commercial, it could be the weather or the news or traffic on I-25. It's never the same thing at that exact time every day.

But Jingle Bells before Thanksgiving? I mean come on! There are still so many leaves on the trees!
Dogwood tree, November 13, 2007

And, there are all those pumpkins to cook! Pumpkin becomes slightly sweetish when cooked and therefore complements spices very well. There is a lot that can be done with pumpkin apart from Pumpkin pie and pumpkin soup. Try making this pumpkin and potato curry. We love it!

Pumpkin and potato curry

Bengali Kumror Chakka

  • 1 small pie pumpkin, chopped into small cubes
  • 5-6 medium potatoes, cubed to same size as the pumpkin
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp panch phoran
  • a pinch of hing
  • 1 dried red chilli, broken into two pieces
  • 1 tejpatta
  • 2 inch knob of ginger
  • 2 medium size cloves of garlic
  • 2 green chillies, sliced vertically and seeds discarded
  • 1.5 tsp jeera powder
  • 1.5 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp amchur powder
  • salt to taste
  • some chopped cilantro, for garnish

  1. Pound the green chillies, ginger and garlic in a mortar and pestle into a corase mixture.
  2. Heat oil in the pan of your pressure cooker.
  3. Add the panch phoran and when it splutters, add hing, then red chilli pieces and then tejpatta.
  4. Then add the pounded mixture of green chillies, ginger and garlic.
  5. Add the potatoes and the pumpkin and stir.
  6. Mix all the dry spices except for the amchur powder with a few teaspoons of water to make a paste.
  7. Add this to the pan and stir well. Cook for a few minutes till you can smell the fragrance of the masalas start to waft through. About 3-4 minutes.
  8. Add 2 and half cups of water and cook under pressure until the first whistle or its equivalent.
  9. Allow to cool till you can open the pressure cooker without hurting yourself. Add the amchur powder and mix well. Then add chopped cilantro leaves and serve with naan or roti or paratha.

  • If you don't have panch phoran, don't fret. Take 2 pinches each of mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds. You can buy pre-mixed panch phoran in the stores but I find it unnecessarily expensive when I can put it together in a jiffy as I usually have all these seeds in my pantry.
  • The long list of ingredients may seem daunting but it's just a question of organizing yourself to have these things ready before you start cooking. And they are everyday spices. Maybe not panch phoran for many of you but you will find that once you have used panch phoran, you will start looking for more recipes with this fragrant mix of seeds.
  • I have adapted this from the original recipe that was posted here by the lovely Sangeeta. I have increased the amount of pumpkin and potatoes and reduced the level of spice. This seems to work very well for us, especially now that Medha can handle a little more spice than before.
  • Be careful while cutting that pumpkin! Cut your pumpkin first and then figure out how many potatoes you will need. You want as much pumpkin as potatoes.

It looks like I am not the only one in the mood for savory pumpkin dishes. Be sure to check out:
ISG's Pumpkin Parathas
Madhoo's Red Pumpkin Curry
Happy Cook's Pumpkin and Potato Soup
Anita's Baakar Bhaji
Srivalli's Gummadikaya Gojju
Richa's Butternut Squash

I am sending this in to Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging which is being hosted by Vanessa of What Geeks Eat.


Kitt said...

Boy, my pantry is lacking. You say hing, and I say huh?

One of these days, though, my kitchen efforts will move beyond Tasty Bites Indian meals in a bag.

In the meantime, what's your favorite Indian place in Denver?

Mrs. K said...

Yay! Christmas time! I love Christmas music too..But in the morning, I love only beep beep beeps, no radio station alarms! Pumpkin curry sounds awesome. You didn't curry the pumpkin that vomited, did you?

Srivalli said...

Nice pumpkin dad loves pumpkin, we make a very simple one yet it tastes awesome...check it when you have time..

sunita said...

We make this very it.

Unknown said...

Pumpkins are so versatile, but i always end up making a Dhansak or Bisi Bele Huli Anna with them...have been wanting to try Anita's Bhaakar Bhaji since she posted it, but just got hold of Goda masala (Bedekar's) - tried her Gawar using loads of this masala and just the bhaji with rice and a bit of ghee tasted divine - May be your recipes will inspire me to try pumpkin the curry style-
I have not been able to leave any comments earlier coz I'm on internet via a datacard and comments page takes AGES to load- on my parents' comp today with superfast connection, hence leaving comments for all the friends today :)

Siri said...

I have a half cut pumpking in my fridge, will make this nice curry with that.. yupeee..:))

Richa said...

i liked ur idea of adding alu, will try! saunf does go very well with pumpkin :)

you may try this for a variation if you like:

bee said...

thanks for this recipe. i have enough pumpkin to set up my own patch. and i just got a packet of panch phoron from a friend. lol @ medha snoring and then dancing. she's a cutie.

Unknown said...

This looks really good. I have always wanted to make a pumpkin curry!

Alpa said...

That's why I hate doing my x-mas shopping, all that annoying music, lol! I loved that you used panch phoron in the dish, so creative! That's sweet Medha is all geared up for the holidays!

musical said...

I always enjoy this recipe, and i agree it won't be same without panch-phoron! Hey, and atleast you have wintery weather to relate to the music, but here its super-hot still and all the shops have X'mas decorations. This year, its been strange-no mention about Thanksgiving except by a cpl. of friends! Looks like X'mas season has set in a bit early!

Anita said...

I have never combined pumpkin with potatoes! (Imagine that!)

I think paanch phoran is a magical combination of spices - one that is particularly good with pumpkin.

And, Kitt, be careful when you get hing - keep the Russian dolls sort of boxes handy - you'll know what I mean once you get some! ;-)

And that good place for Indian food in Denver does not exist (or didn't till 10 years ago anyway)...but you know Manisha, don't you? :D

Indian Food Rocks said...

Kitt, hing is asafetida. When you see words that are in italics, hover over them and you will see a tooltip with the meaning or an explanation. Hing is an essential ingredient in an Indian kitchen. Start with simple stuff like my cabbage salad. Then try my Nutty Green Beans. The stuff in Tasty Bites is great as an alternative but it is very rich - they have lots of butter or ghee and use a lot of cream as well. There was a time when I used a lot of ready spice mixes, especially Shan. Bombay Bazaar or the Korean store should have them. Then if you get a handle on making the basic onion-tomato sauce, it's just a question of adding ginger and/or garlic and some spices (Shan will do very well) according to your tastes, meat or beans and you will have an Indian dish that can be served with naan or rice.

I would love to put together a startup kit for you from my own spices, if you're interested. Let me know!

We haven't ventured into Denver for Indian food. The reports were not encouraging and it's not unlike the restaurants in the Boulder area. We go to Taj in Louisville only because it's close by and only for dinner. Lunch buffets or any buffet at an Indian restaurant in the area are very blah. What masquerades as Indian food is rather shameful. I remember sitting at Royal Peacock in Boulder eating the most awful samosas ever - they were cold on the inside and dripped oil with every bite - but the couple at the next table was enjoying them immensely and actually ordered some more. I guess we were spoiled in Chicagoland where the Sunday buffets were a huge treat! I'm sorry to be so unhelpful but really the best Indian food I have had since we moved to Colorado has been in my own home and in friends' homes.

Suganya said...

Thx for this recipe, Manisha. After the visit to the pumpkin patch, and going crazy, I have enough pumpkin to try all the recipes :)

Indian Food Rocks said...

RP, no! That one is in real bad shape. It freezes at night and thaws during the day. I forgot to put the garbage out last week and it's still sitting out there on my doorstep. Very un-Feng Shui of me.

Srivalli, I added that link to my post! Thanks!

Sunita, we love it, too! Until I found this recipe, I did not cook pumpkin at all. It opened the door to more recipes with pumpkin!

Nandita, try it! You will love it! You can up the heat by adding more red chilli powder, green chillies and dried red chillies, depending on which flavors you prefer the most! I hope your Internet connection is fixed soon! We miss you!

Siri, do let me know when you make it!

Richa, I will! Thanks!

Bee, Medha can switch from one to the other seamlessly. I am the grumpy one!

Erin, it is! Try it! The only painful part is cutting the pumpkin.

Alpa, what Christmas shopping?! My husband is trying to convince Medha that she should ask Santa - yes, she still believes in him, the poor thing! - to give her gift to a needy child to get out going shopping.

Musy, I shouldn't have said anything. It was 70F yesterday. We woke up to a nice dusting of snow and it was 33F on the way to the bus stop. We wont make it past 45F today. Brrrr! I think we are seeing Christmas stuff earlier each year because the Thanksgiving is more about food than gifts.

Anita, imagine that! Pumpkin gets all mushy in the pressure cooker and thickens the sauce. The potatoes hold their own and it's just such a wonderful curry! Perfect for fall!

Suganya, do let me know how you like it or if you added your own twist! I hope you enjoy it!

Mandira said...

Manisha, it is a big hit in my house with luchi (poori) and is called kumror (koomroar) chakka. (the a is pronounced as o - chokka)!

Priya said...

That looks yummy Manisha, ! I bought some butternut squash to try a soup, never used the pumpkins here.

I love Christmas songs too...blame it on the convent schooling. I would take pride on winning the first prize in the Carol singing competition and my mom would go arnd cursing me ..hehe. I am even planning on buying a teeny tiny Christmas tree this year...its been my long cherished dream to decorate one :)

Pelicano said...

I know it! I went into Walgreen's the day after Halloween and was knocked away by the tacky tinsel frou-frou. They are getting way too early. But still, I have fun at certain stores browsing through overpriced X-mas ornaments, pausing to consider if they couldn't be replicated at home. Or maybe a photo-montage of Christmas ornaments to frame and hang on a tree? :-) this recipe Bengali...Punjabi...Marathi? It looks good. Some of your other dishes have been edible, so I just may try this one... :-D heehee

musical said...

Wow! 70 degrees to 45 degrees in a span of 24 hrs or less! Some magic :). That's quite a transition. Curries like this help in such a weather :).

Ah, X'mas decorations! i've picked up some gorgeous looking pine cones and i'm gonna' use them to the best :-D.

Momisodes said...

ooh...the Holiday songs and accessories screaming well before Thanksgiving is no fun. It seems to show it's face earlier each year.

Love the pumpkin dish..looks de-lish!

Molly said...

Hey Tai...bengali style...wah wah and you can also add kala channa to this and tastes yummy with poori's...reminded me of my mom...

Indian Food Rocks said...

Mandira, thanks for that! I added the name to the post. I usually serve it with Malaysian parathas. I should try it with luchis but not so soon after Diwali!

Priya, get the small pie pumpkin. Some grocery stores have started keeping pieces of pumpkin, kind of like how we buy it in India. That would work, too. The large pumpkin is way too big.

My love for caroling goes back to my convent school days, too. You should see Medha's face when I belt them out - do you know these songs? she says. Do get the tree, it's so much fun! Our first tree was a hand-me-down that we used for 5-6 years! And I waited till Christmas to buy ornaments from Walgreens at less than half price. I bought net lights from Home Depot for less than $3 last year and more ornaments from other stores really cheap as my ornaments had started cracking and peeling! I gave the fake tree away to someone else before we moved and I have wanted to get a real tree for the past two years but a certain someone who is required to heave it indoors, does not agree with the concept. And, unfortunately, I have no place in the yard where I could replant it. So we're stuck with a fiber-optic tree and Medha's princess tree for now. And all those ornaments!

Pel, this recipe is Bengali according to Mandira and Molly. I have updated the post to say that. This one is definitely edible - but I think you might want to increase the heat level.

Musy, that's typical CO weather for you! We had 80F one day and dropped to below freezing at night. Brrrr! Looking forward to pics of your Christmas decorations but after Thanksgiving, OK?!

Sandy, the Great Indoors had their trees up in August last year! I had such a terrible experience buying office chairs from them that I haven't ventured back into that store so I don't know when they decked up their halls this year!

Molly, luchis and pooris! Kala channa cooked separately? Do tell cos I make this several times in this season.

Kalyn Denny said...

What a great sounding dish. I have a nephew who loves panch phoron (he's a pretty great cook for a college kid). He really likes pumpkin as well, so I must send him this link. (Maybe I can get him to make it for me!)

Indian Food Rocks said...

Kalyn, I hope you can convince him to make it for you! It is really very good. Before this I did not cook pumpkin at all; now, it's a regular feature for as long as we get pie pumpkins. The only problem I have is cutting the pumpkin because I don't have much strength in my arms!

Laurie Constantino said...

Anything Christmas before Thanksgiving is SO WRONG! I was just complaining about it today. Your pumpkin recipe looks good, although the ingredient list stretches the capacity of Alaska grocery stores -- I may just need to dream about your pumpkin curry. But it's a good dream, that's for sure.

Indian Food Rocks said...

Laurie, welcome to IFR! Is it the panch phoran that you won't be able to get? What about using just cumin seeds and mustard seeds? I would!

Riona said...

Yum! I made this curry tonight and it's definitely a keeper. I needed to make some changes because I wasn't able to get a hold of all the spices - but still it was delicious. Thanks!

Indian Food Rocks said...

Riona, I am glad you enjoyed the curry! I think it's perfectly alright to adapt a recipe to your tastes and to what you have in the pantry. Hey, it might not taste exactly like the recipe intended but if it tastes good and is healthy, who cares?! Welcome to IFR!

gautam said...

Dear Manisha,

Kumror chhokka is a quintessential Bengali vegetarian dish, which generally are lacking in both onion and garlic, in all their Hindu redactions in West Bengal. When I say "all" it means ALL the communities who choose to call this dish by this particular name. I am surprised at where the garlic creeps into the original because wherever you see the ginger-green chili crush, you will immediately identify that combination as belonging to a pure vegetarian Bangali dish, sans garlic and onion. Kumror chhooka is defined by TWO other elements, both of which differentiate from JUST ANOTHER PUMPKIN preparation: 1) the presence of cooked Indian black chickpeas; 2) the addition of tamarind slurry or shoda tentul [an orangish, lightly fermented tamarind pulp] to add a characteristic sour tang to the sweet red Indian pumpkin. The addition of bhaja moshla is generally accepted, which is either roasted cumin seed or roasted panch phoron added at the end, after off heat, PLUS some great grainy desi cow ghee, gaowa ghee, to the hot, still steaming sabzi, and covering both the roasted powdered spice and ghee, mixed in lightly, to merge the flavors. This sabzi is served lukewarm, or room temperature AFTER it has sat for a few hours for the flavors to meld. There has been such a tremendous erosion in the traditional Bangala foodways, especially in vegtarian cooking with better than 85% of the original dishes extinct in my generation itself, gone forever, that I find it shocking and frightening at the steady inroads of non-traditional and alien entry of garlic etc. and the absence of the defining elements of some CORE traditional vegetarian dishes. I am outlinign what makes a CHHOKKA a CHHOKKA. It is like saying, an AYYANGAR MORU KUZHAMBU is made with drumsticks and flavored with cloves and cinnamon and palm sugar! Just because someome say so, does not make is so! Do you understand why? Namaskar. gautam.

Indian Food Rocks said...

Gautam, thank you for that information! This recipe is not mine and I have linked to the original recipe posted on an online forum. I am not very familiar with the ins and outs of Bengali cuisines, instead I am merely acquainted with it through Bengali friends who have cooked for me and through Bengali food bloggers. It was only after several of the latter identified it as "Kumror Chakka" that I updated the title of the recipe. I totally get what you mean by "just because someone says so, does not make it so" and I am sure the same applies to the reverse. I don't mean any disrespect by that. And I certainly appreciate you taking the time to explain what makes chakka, a chakka.

I would love it if you could explain why garlic is "alien" to Bengali cuisine. Thanks so much!