* How about a “Girls Cook-In” at your place? ** Your teenager going vegan? No problem. Family Indian cooking lessons chez vous to the rescue. *** Romantic Cook-In for Couples, Indian Cooking Bachelor Night. **** Celebrating a birthday or special event? I want to come over with my spice-box and help you party! Or book a private class chez moi. And here’s my home.
There be many options and variations, and the temptation of creating an Indian ambience by adding cultural elements like Indian music, photos, stories, etc.
Or how about an Indian cooking lesson at your workplace? (You could use that well-equipped kitchen you already have, or we could go somewhere else.) Cooking together = better team spirit.
Transform this North American pumpkin into something more glamorous! (Shades of Cinderella.) Can be done with other squashes as well but you’ll need to add in more sugar as pumpkin-mumpkin is a tad sweeter than the other squash dudes!
Prep time: 45 mins; Cooking time: 30-40 mins
1 medium sized pumpkin or squash
400 ml can of coconut milk
1/4th cup cashews (white, raw, ideally) broken into smaller pieces
2 tbsp oil
A pinch of asafoetida powder
3/4th tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp poppy seeds
6 curry leaves
1 dried red chilli (optional)
To add later:
1 tsp curry powder
1/4th to 1/2 tsp chilli powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp white or brown sugar (make that 1 tbsp for squashes)
4 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
Put pumpkin/squash in a large pot and boil on high heat for about 45 mins to make the skin soft. This will make it easier to cut and reduce final cooking time. (Check skin tenderness after 30 mins.) You can go for uncooked pumpkin/squash if you lack time but I recommend using parboiled flesh, ideally.
Cut into two halves and remove skin. Take out the seeds and some of the mushy innards. Chop into inch sized squares. Keep aside. Open the coconut milk can and keep aside.
Measure out the required frying spices in small containers and have them handy. Start heating the oil on high heat in a thick bottom pot or Indian wok. Add spices in this order: asafoetida, turmeric, mustard, poppy, curry leaves, red chilli. When the mustard seeds start popping turn down heat and add pumpkin. Fry for a couple of minutes, then add the coconut milk. You may also need to add some water so pumpkin cooks well. Add the curry, chilli, sugar and salt. If using cashews, add them now. Cover and cook on medium heat till pumpkin becomes tender (about 20 minutes.)
Turn down heat and mash the mixture into a thick, puree like consistency with a potato masher. Mix well. Taste the curry and add more salt, curry or chilli if desired. Come on, have some fun! Leave on low heat and simmer for 5-8 minutes so the recently added spices cook a bit and blend in.
Serve hot over rice (white, white and red, brown), garnished with the fresh coriander.
Accompaniments: Salad (Indian or Western style), plain yogurt, papad or papadums as they are called in North America, pickles or chutneys. When serving place the red chilli on top of the serving bowl for a nice effect! Can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days. I always make extra portions.
NB: To fry spices you need an oil that has a high smoking point. I use Sunflower. Vegetable is OK too. Peanut, avocado, coconut, etc. Unfortunately olive does not work well for frying.
(The veggie photos on this page were taken at a wonderful farm in Quebec.)