I am very fond of my vegetables. I am so lost without them. My brain stops functioning if I do not have at least 5 vegetables in my refrigerator-pantry. That makes me greedy. When ever I go shopping for vegetables, I end up buying way more than what the three of us can finish. My previous vegetable shopping trip ended similarly. I had run out of onions midweek and though I will just pick up a couple of bags of onions at the Indian stores. As usual I picked up the shopping basket, went into the vegetable aisle not wanting to make eye contact with any of the vegetables sitting on the shelves, lest I fall in love. Sunny boy who was with me started with his mischief, he picked up one huge cabbage in his tiny hands and came running to me. 'Amma cabbage togoli' and with that his tiny hands dropped the beast of a cabbage into our shopping basket in one loud thud! 'No baby' I said as I tried to figure out where to put the cabbage back. We had had cabbage that very day and there was enough in the fridge to last for a couple more meals.But before I could find a place for the cabbage, me eyes caught the sight of this very beautiful and fresh hunk of Pumpkin, beckoning me. Ah! it was perfect piece of pumpkin, the flesh was bright orange, the rind shinny and green, the seeds were still moist. My eyes devoured half the pumpkin right then and there. Thankfully we are not charged for doing that. I had to get that pumpkin. Sunny boy helped the piece of pumpkin into our shopping basket. My love affair did not end with just pumpkin that day. It continued with two different types of mushrooms, some ash gourd, spring onions, a red bell pepper and more. Now after coming home and opening the produce tray of my fridge, I came out of my stupor. I already had so many vegetables to be finished in the next couple of days.
This is the story every week, sometime even twice a week; that is how many times I go shopping for food. I guess that is part of being a foodie. I never go shopping for clothes, shoes etc. I always shop for food, from farmers' market to super market.
So once I had the pumpkin home, I kept thinking about what to make out of it. Somehow I could not get my head to stop thinking about Kayirasa. A very simple curry with very mild spices. If people find Indian food spicy, they should start with Kayirasa. It is a silky smooth, rich broth of coconut, chillies,ginger and some herbs, mild and slightly sweet. The silkiness possible only if the coconut is ground in an old fashioned stone mortar. I have tried various blenders, food processors, none of them come close to the old fashioned stone mortar in terms of efficiency. It is indeed not a bad idea to use some coconut milk instead. But this time I did use the coconut ground up sort of coarse.
Pumpkin 1.5 lb
Coconut 1 cup
Green chillies 5-6 (adjust according to taste)
Ginger 1" piece
Turmeric a generous pinch
Coriander fresh a handful
Jeera 1 tsp
Ghee 1 tsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Hing a dash
Salt to taste
- Clean the pumpkin, remove the rind and discard it. Scoop out the seeds and chop it into 1" cubes. Wash it and place it in a thick bottom pot with about 3 cups of water and cook on a medium heat.
- While the pumpkin cooks, grind the coconut, green chillies, turmeric, coriander, jeera and 3 tbsp water into a very smooth paste. Reserve.
- Once the pumpkin is cooked but still firm enough to bite, stir in the ground paste of coconut. Stir well and add more water to get the curry to the desired consistency, start with 1/4 cup of water at time and keep adding more as required. Once the curry comes to a boil, turn of the heat.
- To prepare the Oggarane, heat ghee in a pan. Toss in the mustard seed and hing. Pour the prepared ghee over the curry and adjust salt. Serve immediately with hot rice.