Pumpkin Poran

6 May
This is a wonderfully simple, dry, savory type of vegetable dish or ‘curry’. Chunks of pumpkin are fried in pungent mustard oil seasoned with a blend of whole Bengali spices and then simmered with a little water until tender. The rich spicing and pungent mustard work perfectly with the soft sweet orange pumpkin. It is coming to the end of last years pumpkins in store and they need to be used before they turn bad so this curry makes great use of them. 
Serve with rice, flat breads, a yogurt dish, perhaps a dal, and raw or green vegetable side dish.
  • 3 tbsp mustard oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp Panch Phoron (Bengali 5 spices-cumin, fenugreek, fennel, mustard and nigella seeds)
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 500g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
  • 1-3 dried red chilli crushed
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • fresh coriander leaves or lightly crushed green coriander seeds to garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a heavy cooking pot or wok over a medium flame. If using mustard oil let it get very hot and smoking to allow the acridity to mellow. Throw in the Panch Poran a second later add the garlic and chilli, let the pan sizzle for a few seconds until the garlic and chilli darken a little then add the pumpkin and stir fry. Turn the heat down and add the coriander, turmeric & salt. Stir and fry for 15-20 minutes sprinkling with a little water every few minutes until the apumpkin is tender but still in whole pieces. Sprinkle with lemon juice and  coriander leaves and/or seeds.
Source inspired by Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe for fried aubergines in A taste of India  P66 . I have used garlic instead of the asafoetida and whole dried chillis instead of chilli powder and lemon juice instead of amchoor powder. And less mustard oil as pumpkin will not absorb as much oil as aubergines and so less is needed.
Note Panch  Poran or phoron, (one of the many spellings) is the Bengali blend of five spices Panch means “five” and phoron is “flavour” or “spice”.
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