pumpkins: not just for Fall
Red pumpkin is rather popular in the Indian cuisine. It is often available year round and vegetable sellers will sell it in chunks. In the US, I often find it tucked away and plastic wrapped on the shelves of ethnic grocery stores, often lasting only the day the shipment came in!
There are many ways to eat red pumpkin – I typically add it to sambaar (a South Indian daal) with an assortment of other vegetables, or make a creamy pumpkin soup. My mom makes an excellent red pumpkin stew with freshly grated coconut, and sometimes will make a pumpkin halwa or kheer – both equally mouthwatering desserts.
For many folks, especially younger children, the flavor of pumpkin is not easy to like. Depending on the preparation, they may find it too sweet, too mushy, or just plain and lacking texture. If the only way you’ve eaten pumpkin is either baked into a pie or as part of a soup, you need to try this recipe.
This recipe is my take on a western Indian pumpkin savory preparation; I guarantee that you will seek out red pumpkin to make this. The combination of sweet and savory flavors alongside the heartiness of buckwheat, besan and whole wheat flours makes a delectable snack.
Makes: 8 pieces
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black cumin seeds
1/2” ginger, minced fine
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1/4 tsp kasuri methi, crushed
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper powder
1/3 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup chickpea flour (besan)
1/4 cup boiled and mashed red pumpkin (see pre-prep note)
Salt, to taste
1/2 tsp lemon juice
5-10 fresh cilantro leaves, chopped coarse (optional)
2 tbsp oil to mold
Oil for shallow frying
Peel, deseed and dice the red pumpkin into small pieces. Place in a pot of water and allow to boil until tender, 5-7 minutes. Remove the water and mash with a fork when cool. Set aside.
In a medium sized mixing bowl combine all the ingredients, except the cilantro and lemon juice. Make a well in the center and add the mashed red pumpkin. Using a spoon, slowly bind the dough. There will be enough water content in the pumpkin to let the flour come together. This process may take a 5-7 minutes because the dough will be very sticky at first. Add dry whole wheat flour if it is too sticky – the dough should be slightly firmer than the consistency of mashed potatoes. Add the cilantro leaves and lemon juice and adjust for salt.
Heat a little oil in a shallow saucepan. Grease your palms and take a small scoop of the dough in your hand. Roll it until it is smooth and press down lightly to flatten it out. Each diskette should be no more than ¼” thick; any thicker and it won’t cook evenly. Using a skewer, make a small incision in the center of the diskette or tikki.
As the oil heats up, shallow fry each diskette on medium low for 2-3 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown in color. Drain on a paper towel and keep warm until ready to eat. Serve with a coconut chutney, or plain alongside your afternoon tea.