South Indian Pumpkin & Cashew Curry
I've been wanting to try this recipe ever since I saw the intense photo of the dish in India's Vegetarian Cooking: A Regional Guide. I've never cooked much with pumpkin, but this recipe with cashews, coconut, poppy seeds and milk really called out to me. The cashews, coconut and poppy seeds are ground together to a paste, which gave the dish a lovely texture to compliment the smooth pumpkin. It's a delicious mellow curry with lots of character.
The recipe uses fresh curry leaves, which can be difficult to find. I was thrilled to finally make it to Malabar Indian Store on 4th Street (at F) in San Rafael. A treasure trove of Indian goodies, Malabar had fresh curry leaves, tamarind concentrate, black mustard seeds and an enormous selection of legumes, rice, and spices at reasonable prices. They also carry lots of frozen meals and I picked up a 4 pack of frozen coconut chutney to try.
I added onions to the dish and used a combo of fresh chile and RCP (vs red dried). I increased the amount of cashew and decreased the amount of dried coconut. I also significantly reduced the amount of sugar. Here's my adapted recipe:
South Indian Pumpkin & Cashew Curry:
1/2 small pumpkin, seeded, peeled and cut into pieces
1/4 cup dried coconut
1/3 cup raw cashews
1 TBS poppy seeds
1/4 cup water
1/2 jalapeno, seed and very finely chopped
2 TBS sunflower oil
1/2 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
6 curry leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup milk
water as needed
sugar to taste (I used less than a tsp)
salt to taste
Prepare the pumpkin. In a mini-prep, grind together the cashews, coconut, poppy seeds and 1/4 cup water to make a grainy paste.
Heat the sunflower oil in a skillet and saute the onions. Add the black mustard seeds and when they start to pop, add the chile. Add the curry leaves. Add the turmeric and then the paste and stir well to combine. Add the pumpkin with 1/4 cup water. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, adding the salt and sugar to taste. Add water as needed to prevent the mixture sticking and to keep the pumpkin cooking. The pumpkin should be just tender, but easily holding its shape.
Serve with rice.