Friday, September 9, 2011

Pumpkin and Black Eyed Peas aka Mathanga Erissery

With respect to our theme, let me start it with a traditional Kerala recipe. This is one of those recipes for you guys out there, away from home and missing Mom's cooking. This recipe is very forgiving if you cook it a little less or more, its will still turn out good. This is one of my all time favorite dishes, from traditional sadya (Kerala feast) and I made it a point to learn it from Mom when she was here, coz she makes the best Erissery. Starchy, mushy from pumpkin, nutty from the coconut and chunky from the peas, this dish is traditionally served with rice,but can also be eaten in a bowl like a soup. Just make sure you dont cook up too much, this dish will stay good for a maximum of 2 days when stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
The gigantic yellow pumpkin works great, but so does the smaller kibocha squash available in Asian and American Markets, especially during this season.
This recipe is dedicated to a special follower of MMP who happens to love Chowli aka Black eyed Peas and is a constant source of support for MMP. Hope you enjoy it! :-)

1/2 cup of black eyed peas---cleaned
About 2 cups of cubed pumpkin meat ( follow the pea: pumpkin ratio if you are cooking more or less)
Fresh grated coconut--- 1/4 cup + 1/2 cup
3-4 green chilies, slit in half
Cumin seeds--1 tsp
Coriander seeds---1 tbsp
Coriander powder---1 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/2tsp + 1/2 tsp+ 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder-- 1 tsp
Garlic cloves---4-5 peeled
5-6 peeled shallots (if not available, use half a medium red onion.)
Coconut oil----Just enough for tempering-abt 2 tsp
Curry Leaves--about a sprig
Mustard seeds-- 1 tsp
Dry red chillies---3-5
2 chopped shallots

First cook the black eyed peas, preferably in a pressure cooker, using enough water and a little salt and turmeric until tender but not mushy. About 4-5 whistles.
In a medium sauce pan, boil the pumpkin cubes and green chilies in a cup of water,a little salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder until cooked and tender, but not mushy. Keep aside.
In a nonstick pan, roast 1/2 cup coconut, coriander seeds and shallots until the coconut turns light golden brown. Remove 1/4 cup of roasted coconut mix (spare the shallots) and keep aside for garnish.Remove from heat and stir the chilli powder into the hot mix.
In a blender, grind the roasted coconut mix, garlic cloves, cumin seeds, coriander powder and the fresh coconut with a little bit of water, until a smooth paste   is made of it. The water used to boil the pumpkin or peas can be used for this job. Those contain all the nutrients from the cooking and throwing them away is just a waste.
Now mix the coconut mixture, cooked pumpkin and chilies and the peas together until well mixed. Simmer on low heat until slightly thick and the pumpkin pieces are mushy. Check and add salt if needed.
In a tempering pan, heat the coconut oil and fry the mustard seeds until they crackle, then add the shallots, curry leaves and dry red chilies, taking care it doesn't smoke. Now pour the tempering mix into the cooked curry, stir once and cover with a lid. Serve on rice. Enjoy.

Mamma's Note: I have learnt from experience that having roasted coconut in the refrigerator considerably lessens the cooking time for this dish. The ingredients that we roasted with the coconut, can be added to the paste even without roasting and will still give good results. The only thing I ask my Mom to make,  for me to bring back here is roasted coconut with coriander and curry leaves. The stuff can last for about two years if you give it permanent residence in the refrigerator. And the mix can be good to make Theeyals, Varutharacha Curries (fried-n-ground), Erisserys and even some Chettinadan dishes.

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