When I was out last week doing some research for this piece I was writing for Apartment Therapy Kitchen on the Co-Opportunity Grocery Store in Santa Monica, I noticed this little food magazine called Delicious Living that they were giving out free up at the front of the store near a bunch of new agey flyers and other hippy dippy hoo-ha. I had actually been to the Delicious Living website before and thought it was interesting, but I had bookmarked it on a work computer a couple jobs ago, and when that job ended I sort of forgot about the site. Anyway, leafing through the magazine there was a little sidebar listing some seasonal recipes for fall that were available on the website. This curried pumpkin dahl was one of them. I looked up the ingredients and was totally intrigued.
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
1/4 cup grated coconut
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 serrano or Thai chili peppers, seeded and diced (I seeded only one of the chilies)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, minced
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground corriander
2 cups light chicken or vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups tomatoes, diced
4 cups fresh pumpkin (1 small pie pumpkin), peeled and diced
2 cups cooked black-eyed peas
2 cups kale or spinach, chopped
3 tablespoons mint, minced
a couple spoonfuls of plain yogurt
basmati rice, for serving
I always find it to be a bit tricky to peel hard skinned vegetables like pumpkins or squash. Perhaps it's because my vegetable peeler and knives are too dull. Anyway, what I do is, after I've cleaned out the seeds and guts and whatnot, I just go ahead and dice it like the recipe calls for, and then I just cut the skin off each individual cube. It might seem fussy, but I feel like I have more control over the knife and it doesn't seem like it might slip off a hard, rounded object.
Combine onion, coconut, garlic, chili peppers, ginger root, garam masala, cumin, cinnamon, salt, turmeric, coriander and .3 tablespoons stock in a blender. Purée mixture to a paste, scraping down the sides of the blender beaker as necessary.
Heat oil in a large saucepan, then add the spice paste and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add remaining stock, tomatoes and pumpkin.
Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the pumpkin is just tender, about 20 minutes.
Mix in black-eyed peas and kale. Continue to cook, stirring often, until kale is tender, about 10 more minutes.
Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasonings and then stir in most of the mint just before serving. In a wide, shallow bowl, mound some rice and top with the pumpkin dahl. Spoon a little yogurt over and scatter with the rest of the mint.
I have to admit I was initially slightly skeptical about this dish. I love curries, but whenever I've cooked with fresh pumkin (as opposed to canned pumpkin puree) I find them to be flavorless and with a sort of stringy texture. I think in the past I was cooking with the wrong kind of pumpkin. This time I used a small pumpkin that is meant for pies, not carving, and the results were fantastic. A little sweet, a little spicy, and with an obvious but not over-powering scent of cinnamon, the complex spices worked perfectly with the pumpkin (If you can't find a pie pumkin for some reason, you could easily substitute a butternut squash). The freshness of the kale and mint contrast nicely with the the thick sauce and the starchiness of the pumpkin and the black-eyed peas. Of couse you could switch out the kale with spinach and the black-eyed peas with maybe chickpeas and even the pumpkin with chicken. It's always nice to discover a new source of recipes and since this one was so satisfying and quite easy, I expect to explore more of Delicious Living's website.