Allahabad Pumpkin

When fall is here, can squash and pumpkins be far behind? Try my aromatic pumpkin that owes its origin to the historic state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India. I guarantee that you will never look back at pumpkin with glazed or bored eyes, once you have eaten Allahabad Pumpkin.

For me Allahabad conjures up a Hindi language that’s very pleasing to the ear. Impacted by the mughal nawabs, Hindi meandered and embraced Urdu’s politesse. Allahabad also for me is beautifully rich silks, and it then makes sense that the food is richly embellished. An extraordinary pumpkin: yet so clean and simple, try pumpkin, Allahabad style to understand the richness and delicacy of this dish.

The city of Allahabad lies in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state In India, boasting over 200 million people. Lying on the indo-gangetic plain and blessed by the mineral deposits of the Ganga River as well as the mountain minerals from the Himalayas, this state is considered to be the Indian subcontinent’s richest & most fertile area.

Allahabad is the meeting junction of 3 rivers also called Triveni Sangam: Rivers Ganga & Yamuna crisscross above while the mysterious Saraswati wells up from underground.

Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam & Christianity coexisted here and how could they not be enraptured by this land? The mughal king Akbar called it Allahabad or Abode of God. Hindus value a pilgrimage to the kumbh mela, the once in 12 year pilgrimage to Allahabad to dip in the holy Ganga.

You need

3 cups peeled, cubed and steamed pumpkin squash
3 tbsp cooking oil
¼ tsp onion/nigella seeds (kalonji in Hindi)
1 dry red chili, torn in half
6-7 grains fenugreek seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp mustard seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp fennel seeds
10 curry leaves

Himalayan salt to taste
Pinch hing

In pan, heat oil. Add spices in this order:

Mustard seeds, when they pop, add the rest of the spices quickly, sauté and watch spices don’t burn. Quickly add the cubed, steamed squash. Give the squash a stir so that it’s completely coated with the spice oil. Stir a few times to let the spices permeate and to allow the spices to cook & release even more of their goodness into the pumpkin. Be careful not to break the pretty squash cubes. Now you might appreciate why I insisted on steaming a little under, a little al dente. Turn off heat. Serve with chapati or any bread.

Notes

  • I used grapeseed oil. You can sub with any light fragrance-free oil like sunflower.
  • Can’t find pumpkin? Sub with butternut squash, pepper squash, acorn squash.
  • It’s easier to peel & cube squash after steaming with skin. Steam till squash is al dente, cooked but still holds shape as you will be sauteeing the squash after and don’t want it to become mushy.
  • Fenugreek has a slight bitter taste, But is known to reduce blood sugar levels.
  • Fennel has a slight sweet taste & is a great digestive.
  • Look for the tiny mustard seeds, black or brown doesn’t matter.
  • Can’t find onion seeds? sub with Celery seeds.
  • For more heat, use more than 1 chili and break the red chili pepper into much smaller pieces.
  • For lesser heat, use chili sparingly, cut down to ½.

Succulent pumpkin, prepared in a simple 2-step process: steam and then sauté. That’s how simple it gets. This is PURE LOVE!!! I’m sure you’ll agree when you try it out. While working in the UNESCO office in New Delhi, my coworker Rekha would bring this to lunch. By far, the most luscious pumpkin I’ve ever had, I hope you will try my take on Allahabad Pumpkin.

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