Thursday, November 02, 2006
…or Pumpkin with Shrimps!!! With Halloween just gone by, can pumpkins be far behind? And I tell you there are much better ways to put a pumpkin to use than making a jack-o-lantern out of it, at least every Bong thinks so.
Pumpkin is a much loved vegetable in Bengal, and there are a variety of dishes with equally unique names made with this unassuming plump orange vegetable. We have Kumro’r Chakka (a dish made with potatoes, parwal, Pumpkin and chana), Kumro’r chechki ( pumpkin cooked with hing & methi), Kumro’r por bhaja(pumpkin slices fried in batter), Kumro in chachari(mixed vegetable with pumpkin) and even Kumro bhaate (plain boiled pumpkin, mashed and mixed with little mustard oil ). Kumro ful or flowers of the pumpkin plant are also fried in a batter and is a delicacy, so much so that last year I had a pumpkin patch in my backyard to get the flowers which are not available in this foreign land.
On the aside, all this “dear Pumpkin” reminds me of Pumpkin in “Memoirs of a Geisha”, a wonderfully written book, go ahead and read it if you haven’t. Haven't seen the movie but the book is beautiful.
Today I made Kumro-Chingri Botti, just because I loved its sound on my tongue and also because I love shrimp. This is a dish my Ma-in-law makes and is something that was never cooked by my Ma. My Ma who is a Ghoti(Bengalis originally from West Bengal) always makes Pumpkin in a strict vegetarian fashion with no onions or any other non-veg distractions. So I am not sure whether this is a Bangal(people and culture originating from east Bengal now a separete country Bangladesh) tradition. Whatever it is, it is definitely tasty and now my Ma likes it too.
What You Need
Pumpkin ~ I used 2 slices like the ones shown
Shrimp ~ I used medium sized frozen cooked shrimps
Onion ~ ½ small chopped
Green Chillies ~ 5/6 slit
PanchPuran ~ a five spice mixture
How I Do It
Peel the hard skin of the pumpkin and cut in small cubes
Thaw the shrimp if you are using frozen and mix with little turmeric and salt. For fresh shrimp, buy the small ones, remove the shell, devein and mix with turmeric & salt
Lightly fry the shrimp
Heat oil in a Kadai/Frying pan. Mustard Oil is best.
Temper with panchpuran and green chilies or in the Bong way use panchpuran & green chillies for phoran
When the spices start crackling, add the chopped onions.
Saute till they are brown and then add the cubed pumpkin.
Add a little turmeric powder and continue frying.
Add a little water and cook covered. Intermittently remove the lid & stir to make sure the pumpkins are not getting burned and are getting cooked uniformly.
When the pumpkin turns a little soft, add the shrimp, a little salt and continue cooking
The pumpkins should turn nice and soft and a little mushy, as in the picture.
Serve hot with chapatti, paratha or luchi
Also goes well with white rice.
Edited to add on 09/13/2012: Here is a second version of the recipe with spices suggested by a reader. Instead of paanchphoron, temper the oil with Kalonji/Kalo Jeere and Green chilies. Skip the onions. Add Cumin Powder and Coriander Powder along with turmeric powder. rest is same.
Trivia: Pumpkin is so much coveted in Bengal that in the district of Bankura, pumpkin is lovingly known as “Bankura’r aapel” or “Bankura’s apple”, the apple being a foreign and expensive fruit in those areas, this is definitely an accolade for dear Pumpkin.