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Pumpkins are tough. Tough to break down, tough to cook down and damn tough to get a recipe down that exists outside of the pie domain. Use anyone as a soundboard for your fantasies of mastering the oversized squash in the kitchen and I guarantee you will hear, “Cool, you’re going to try pumpkin pie from scratch?” many, many more times than you care to. And really, pumpkin pie is as clichéd as the ubiquitous pumpkin spiced lattes and pumpkin laced cheesecakes that inevitably show up October 1st – equally boring as it is omnipresent. Press on though and you will transcend the humble gelatinous pie and arrive at the savory pumpkin dish of your dreams if you think a little outside the box.

Curried pumpkin sounded as ridiculous, at first, as pseudo pumpkin flavored coffee, but the Indian treatment suited it well, complementing the sweetness of the cooked down pumpkin with the delightful funk of the curry mixture. I added the potatoes for heft and the kale for a leafy contrast and both worked to great effect, the pumpkin breaking down and coating each of the elements, making a long shot idea into a cohesive dish.

In the end, two ingredients that too often end up on your front porch in the fall – pumpkin and kale – are both well served making the trip from stoop to kitchen.

Ingredients:

1 medium pumpkin (about 2-3 lbs,) peeled, cored with seeds removed and diced into ¼ inch pieces

5 large potatoes peeled and diced into ½ inch pieces (about 4 cups)

1 yellow onion, diced into ¼ inch pieces.

1 bunch of kale, roughly chopped, large stems removed (about 8 cups)

¼ cup of olive oil

1 Tbsp mustard seeds

¼ tsp cayenne pepper (this is a judgment call, add more if you like it hot)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 Tbsp peeled and chopped fresh ginger

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup of water

It helps to have all of the ingredients ready to go before you begin cooking this one, so break down the pumpkin, potatoes and kale etc. before beginning. Place a large Dutch oven or skillet over medium heat and add the mustard seeds and the olive oil. Once the seeds begin to pop, add the remaining spices and the ginger and let them cook until the ginger softens. Add the onion and the pumpkin and cook until the onions turn translucent. Add the potatoes and cook for five minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, turn the heat to low and cover for a half hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the cover and if the mixture seems wet, turn the heat to medium and reduce by ½; if not, cook uncovered for about 10 minutes and then serve immediately.

by Tom Volk

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