Pumpkin Chaaru - A sweet sour spicy soup
"What! Not another pumpkin recipe! This Saffron Trail blogger has gone bonkers."
I'm sure, you, my dear reader, are exclaiming thus, on seeing my new post alert in your mailbox.
But I have a couple of good reasons for this.
1\. Pumpkins are good for you. (okay, you already knew this)
2\. Autumn is pumpkin season in many parts of the world, and as a blog, I am trying to cater to a global audience ;) (clears throat)
3\. But the most important reason is that once you taste this dish, you are going to want to make this again and again.
I have had the good fortune of tasting some delicious dishes from Telugu cuisine thanks to my neighbour aunty in Hyderabad, for the short time that I lived there. It was quite unlike the mass produced Andhra meal thaalis, which I don't care for much.
A few weeks ago, I dropped into a neighbour's house to borrow something. It was before lunchtime and I was surrounded by a cloud of incredibly delicious aromas. It felt like a rasam was simmering, but I could tell from the aroma, that there was something more to it. Shamelessly (yes, we food bloggers are like that) - I asked her, "What's cooking?". "pumpkin chaaru," she said, and seeing my expressions, she herself offered me a bowlful to drink. It was ab.so.lute.ly mouthwateringly good. The balance of spicy-sour-sweet-salt was perfect and I (again, shamelessly) served myself some more. I asked her for the recipe (well of course), but it was her Telugu sister-in-law's recipe and she said she would have to get it from her, as the cook had prepared directly from her instructions.
I am still awaiting the recipe. But I couldn't wait to prepare the Pumpkin Chaaru, one BIG pot full and devour it all by myself. I have tried it thrice since then and I feel the current recipes comes very close in taste to what I tasted at my friend's place.
- In a medium sized deep pan, heat the oil.
- Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. After the mustard splutters, add curry leaves, crushed garlic, dried red chillies, asafoetida, and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add the pumpkin cubes (small sized), and toss well.
- Add 2.5 cups water, bring to a boil. Reduce flame, cover and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, until the pumpkin pieces are almost cooked.
- Add tamarind paste, jaggery, salt, rasam powder, black pepper powder and turmeric powder and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- Serve hot as a soup or with steamed rice.
No rasam powder handy? You can you use sambar powder as a reasonable substitute. No sambar powder either? Lightly roast a few black pepper corns, a teaspoon of cumin seeds and coarsely crush it in a mortar pestle. Mix with 1/2 tsp of red chilli powder.
If you have a traditional pumpkin recipe in your community, do leave me a comment with the details and I'd love to try it out.