Dewy mists and heavy fogs at the break of dawn, sporadic rain, hail storms and fluffy snow falling from the skies, icy winds blowing through the day, all herald the onset of winter. Which means, for all you health buffs out there, it is that time of the year when you complain of persistent dry skin, a blocked nose, cough and sore throat, muscle cramps, joint pain, common cold and flu. Wait a minute, did we just forget something? Yes, of course, the (quite unfortunately) still spreading and rather deleterious COVID-19, what with nearly 1 crore people (and still counting) having tested positive for the coronavirus infection in India thus far. It is, hence, stating the obvious when we say that the buzzword is, you guessed it, immunity. And one such nourishing winter veggie that bolsters defence mechanism, besides being packed with vital nutrients and fantastic health benefits, is the round, huge, vivid orange or yellow and humble pumpkin.
Showcasing an array of valuable constituents including vitamin A for enhancing eyesight, vitamin C for disease resistance, antioxidants for revamping skin, pumpkins are high in protein, fiber, potassium content as well, for augmenting heart functions and accelerating weight loss. Rich in vitamin E, vitamin B9 or folate, iron, this pulpy natural bounty belonging to the Cucurbitaceae botanical family, being a variety of winter squash and bearing the scientific names Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita maxima, elevates blood circulation, detoxifies the system. What’s more, pumpkins possess a slightly sweet flavour and smooth texture, which makes them a tasty plus easy option to incorporate in Indian cooking.
Although the food scene regarding home-cooked meals is bustling now with many novel dishes being introduced, due to new normal norms of remaining indoors, staying safe, social distancing, this time around, we suggest you go true-blue, traditional and old-school. So we bring you two delightful, customary desi recipes with pumpkins, Kaddu Ki Sabzi – a subtly spicy Punjabi-style pumpkin curry and Poosanikai Sambar – a tangy lentil gravy from Tamil Nadu, to uplift overall wellbeing and keep illness at bay.
Delicious And Wholesome Pumpkin Recipes From The Indian Kitchen:
Kaddu Ki Sabzi
1 big pumpkin, peeled and sliced into cubes
2 tbsp rice bran oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds or jeera
A pinch of hing
½ tbsp amchur i.e. raw mango powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp jaggery powder
Salt, as needed
A bunch of coriander leaves, for garnish
In a pan, heat rice bran oil on high flame, then put in the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, hing.
Once they begin to sputter, lower the flame and add the pumpkin pieces, along with raw mango powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt, as per taste.
Toss the pumpkin bits, so they are evenly coated with oil and spices, then transfer the jaggery powder, with some water and cook for 15 minutes.
After the pumpkins become soft, adjust for salt and switch off the stove.
Top off the zesty Kaddu Ki Sabzi with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with rotis, pooris or chapatis.
Profuse amounts of vitamin A, lutein, zeaxanthin in pumpkins supply optimal vision and lower the risk of acquiring eye disorders like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, cataracts, in the later years. Moreover, the wealth of carotenoid and flavonoid antioxidants in pumpkin eliminate harmful free radicals from the body and preserve immune functions. Jaggery contains vast reserves of iron, natural sugars, calories, for stimulating healthy red blood cell synthesis, circulation, as well as combatting fatigue and preventing anaemia. Blessed with calcium, as well as alkaloids, coriander leaves strengthen bones, alleviate joint aches and bolster liver tissues.
2 cups pumpkin, skin, seeds removed, inner layer chopped, boiled
1 medium onion, cut into pieces
1 cup toor dal, boiled
1 tbsp tamarind pulp extract
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
2 tsp urad dal
1 fistful of curry leaves
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp sambar powder
A bit of asafoetida
Salt, as required
Heat sesame oil in a vessel on high, temper the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, urad dal and curry leaves for a minute.
Put in the onions and cook for 5 minutes, until they turn translucent.
On medium flame, pour in the tamarind extract, some water, along with turmeric powder, sambar powder, asafoetida, sufficient salt and cook for 10 minutes.
Transfer the boiled pumpkin and pressure-cooked toor dal with some water, stir continuously for 5 minutes, to allow the flavours to soak in.
Turn off the flame and savour the appetizing Poosanikai Sambar with warm rice, ghee and appalam.
Pumpkins comprise ample quantities of polyphenol phytonutrients, vitamin C, vitamin E, which enrich skin texture from within and infuse moisture to dry tissues in wintertime. Additionally, being laden with dietary fibers and proteins, pumpkins are a low-calorie veggie for shedding surplus body fat and promoting weight loss. Toor dal is a storehouse of proteins, providing beneficial essential amino acids to fortify muscles and improve growth, development of all bodily organs, tissues. Abundant in healthy unsaturated fats, sesame oil averts cardiac ailments and supports heart health.