Reena Chandrasekhar is a familiar figure to most of us at the club. She has given her wise counsel and expert advice to the Catering Department for many years. In this issue, she elevates the humble red pumpkin to give it pride of place with her exquisite recipes. The pumpkin/squash also resonates with Thanksgiving where it is a staple.
From soups, starters, centrepieces , main courses and desserts, the pumpkin lends itself so easily to any cuisine. I found it difficult to pick the best from a mind blowing range so I have chosen a few of my favourites with the versatile pumpkin / squash – a popular American pumpkin pie, and Indian pumpkin halwa and a pumpkin curry.
Short crust pastry.:
All purpose flour. 2 1/2 cups
Butter – chilled cubes. 220 gms
Ice water 1/2 cup
Salt. I tsp
Water. 1/2 cup if necessary
1. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Using 2 forks cut the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add ice water a little at a time , gently handling the dough just enough to bring the dough together . Roll into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.
2. Divide the dough into two parts. Roll one half out to fit the pie dish to form the base of the pie. Prick the base with a fork to prevent it from rising up during baking. Place pie weights (a handful of any dried beans) and bake blind for 15 mins.
3. Remove the beans and set aside.
Cornflour. 1 tbsp
Thick pumpkin purée. 2 cups
Salt. 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon powder. 1/2 tsp
Ginger 1/2 tsp
Nutmeg. 1/4 tsp
Heavy cream. 1 cup
Milk. 1/4 cup
Vanilla essence. 1 tsp
1. Boil the pumpkin purée down to a thick mass.
2. Add all the rest of the ingredients to prepare the filling. Place filling on the baked pie crust.
3. Thinly roll out the other half of the dough. And cut out leaves with a cutter.
4. Place cut outs on top of the filling, brush with butter and bake for 15 to 20 mins.
Grated pumpkin. 4 cups
Sugar. 1 1/2 cups
Ghee. 1/2 cup plus 1/2 cup
Almonds & Cashew. 1/2 cup each roasted
Powdered cardamom. 3/4 tsp Saffron. A few strands
1. Roast almonds and cashews and set aside
2. Peel pumpkin, remove the seeds and cut into chunks .Grate pumpkin pieces.
3. In a heavy pan heat 1/2 cup ghee and fry grated pumpkin for a few mins.
4. Add 3/4 cup water and cook till tender. Add sugar and cook for 7 to 10 minutes until water almost evaporates .
5. Add 1/2 cup ghee and continue cooking until you see bubbles at the fringe.
6. Top with fried nuts, add the cardamom and saffron strands .
The halwa keeps well for several days and can be reheated and had.
Spicy Indian Pumpkin Curry
Pumpkin cubes. 2 cups
Tomato chopped. 3 medium-sized
Cashew paste. 2 tbsp
Chilli coriander powder. 2 tsps
Ginger and garlic chopped. 1 tsp each
Turmeric. 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds. 1 tsp
Whole red chillies. 2
Curry leaves. A handful
Oil for seasoning. 2 tbsps
Salt to taste
Water 2 cups
Garam masala. 1/2 tsp. optional.
1. Heat oil in a kadhai. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves and red chilies .
2. Add pumpkin pieces and fry for 2 mins. Add chopped ginger garlic, chopped tomatoes and fry for 2 to 3 mins, for the raw smell of pumpkin to go.
3. Add cashew paste and salt to taste. Add garam masala.
4. Add 2 cups water and let the gravy cook till thick.
5. Drizzle with fresh cream and garnish with coriander leaves
6. Serve hot with rice or rotis.