FOOD TALK
Kaddu takes the cake

Pumpkin soup can be enjoyed by itself or substituted for dal or subzi to go with roti and rice,
writes Pushpesh Pant

Pumpkin, the poor thing, is arguably the most plebian of all vegetables in our country. There are rare occasions when ó paired with bedvi or kachauri ó it gets a reasonable billing. We donít even have a festival like the Halloween when it can have a stellar non-culinary role. What then can pumpkin eaters like Peter celebrated in the nursery rhyme do? We are delighted that the nutritionists and dieticians are beginning the to realise its true worth and are spreading the good word around.

Pumpkins a.k.a. kaddu, kumbhada and sitaphal is low in calories, rich in potassium, is filling and flavourful at the same time. It ranks high along with other colourful veggies like carrots and leafy greens that do us so much good.

In France, they are considered delicacy of sorts and are consumed as puree, soup, au gratin or plain and used in pies sweet and savoury. In South-East Asia one can easily encounter a pumpkin-based desert or two as mildly sweet cake or embellished with coconut milk. Why then must we be content with subzi. Incidentally, the way we cook it (long and well mashed) not many nutrients can survive. We were very happy to come across tasty shorba (soup) obtained from this member of the marrow-squash family.

The winter is setting in and a bowlful of a warm broth is always welcome. We know there are those who believe that soups are alien to native soil and should be prescribed only for the convalescent, aged and infirm in the desi context. We disagree violently and would like to recall a Sanskrit verse from Bhojprabandha that has the great poet Kalidas asking his patron to serve him a meal Ďghrit soup samanvitam.í Soup here is literally the same as in English, only the blob of butter is replaced with ghee. There is no law that ties you down to eating your soups the first course. (The Chinese and the Thais certainly donít do so). The recipe we bring to you this week can be enjoyed by itself or substituted for dal or subzi to combine with roti or rice. The tempering offers countless possibilities to give free play to your imagination. You will discover that preparing this delight is almost effortless.

kaddu ka shorba

Ingredients

Pumpkin (ripe) 1 kg
Green chillies 2
Garlic cloves(optional) 3-4
Bay leaf (optional) one
Cumin seeds ľ tsp
Coriander seeds ľ tsp
Red chilli whole (optional) one
Ghee/oil for tempering 1 tsp
A pinch of asafoetida
A sprig of fresh coriander
Salt to taste

Method

Skin and cut pumpkin in large pieces. Boil with the bay leaf and chillies in a pressure cooker just enough to render pulping easy. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Puree in a blender. Put in a saucepan along with one litre of water. Stir in the salt and bring to boil then reduce heat and continue to cook for about 10 minutes on low flame.

Heat the ghee/oil in a ladle. Add asafoetida

and when it dissolves, the seeds and when these begin to splutter the whole red chilli. When the chilli becomes shiny pour the tempering over the soup. If not dieting, do please indulge and add that sinful dollop of butter. Garnish with fresh coriander and donít wait for the guests.





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