Here is a mashed pumpkin recipe with a big twist from the traditional, with very different flavors.
Thanksgiving is around the corner; the preparation, and the planning is at its peak. We do not have family here. We do not meet very many people during Thanksgiving. But all the festivities and the preparations reminds me of home. Pumpkins and Butternut Squashes are so abundantly used during this time of the year here. But back home we cooked pumpkin almost round the year. This is a very simple recipe, perhaps the most underrated of all the ways we cook pumpkins; this is not the kind of recipe which would be ever written down. It was just an insignificant part of our daily meals. Insignificant it was, but I loved it! Using the fire roasted dried chili pepper was my ma’s signature touch. That distinct aroma of the fire roasted chili peppers and the mustard oil combined with the creamy yellow pumpkin to create everlasting memory. The fire roasted chili pepper was not used in any other recipe by ma. Why she used it here in mashed pumpkin I do not know, but it did add an unforgettable flavor to the not so interesting pumpkin. Sometimes this kind of easy comfort food calms my restlessness.
Back home ma would cook/boil the pumpkin with the rice; that way it did not have to be cooked separately – just another way to save some time, and it also made it less watery when mashed. Traditionally this is called “Kumro Bhate” (Kumro= pumpkin Bhate=steamed in rice) or “Kumro Makha” (Kumro= Pumpkin Makha=Mashed). Mustard oil is traditionally used as a cooking oil and for garnishing at the Eastern Regions of India. You can use any other oil or butter, but the flavors will be very different from this one.
Here is the mashed pumpkin with Fire Roasted/Charred Chili Pepper, Coconut and Mustard Oil.
Mashed Pumpkin/Butternut Squash
- 2 Cups diced Butternut Squash/Pumpkin (Cut the squash into half, deseed and peel the squash/pumpkin and dice it)
- 1 Teaspoon pure organic Mustard Oil (May be substituted with Olive Oil or any other flavorful oil of your choice)
- 1/4 – 1/2 Teaspoon Sugar (Adjust to taste)
- 1.5 Tablespoon Fresh Grated Coconut (The Frozen Shredded Coconut may be used)
- 2 Red Dried Chili Peppers
- Fresh Cilantro/Coriander Leaves for Garnish (Optional)
Cooking the Pumpkin/Squash:
In a Pressure Cooker: Add the required amount of water in the pressure cooker (Follow instruction for your cooker). Put all the diced pumpkins/butternut squash in a bowl in the middle of the pressure cooker and steam it for about 10 -12 minutes.
In a Steamer: Place in a steamer or metal colander which will fit in a deep covered pan. Put over boiling water, cover, and steam for about 20 minutes, or until fork tender.
To Boil: Cover the diced pumpkins/squash with lightly salted water; boil for about 20 minutes, or until tender.
Microwave Method: Add 1 tablespoon water to the diced pumpkin; place them in a microwave safe bowl, cover it and cook for about 5 minutes. Uncover, toss the pumpkins, if all the water has dried out, add another spoonful, cover and cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft. Note that the time might vary with microwave.
Mash the cooked pumpkin/squash with a masher or run it through a mill if you want it really smooth. Put the mashed pumpkin/squash on a strainer or sieve and let the extra water drip out. (If you skip this step you will end up with a mash which will be watery instead of creamy).
To Roast the Peppers directly on Fire: (Caution: This process creates intensely strong smell which will make you cough and sneeze Use mask if you need to and char/roast them in a very well ventilated area)
Hold the end of the chili pepper with a tong directly on fire (Stove top or grill). As the chili pepper catches the fire (you will see the flame on the pepper), remove it from the stove top/grill and let fire char the chili pepper. Gently blow out the flame right after. Drop the pepper on a plate or directly on the mashed pumpkin/squash.
Add the roasted/charred chili peppers and the other ingredients to the mashed pumpkin/squash and mash it again for all the ingredients to combine well. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
(This is only a base recipe; feel free to add nuts, raisins/dried cranberries, may be some cream, whatever you and your family would enjoy.)
Very different flavors, very different taste; overall a non traditional mashed pumpkin. We usually serve this as a side with warm rice. Use it as any other side recipe – pumpkin with awesome, flavors, sweet and fire!
Happy Thanksgiving! Have a fabulous time with family and friends.