Author Notes: I fell in love with roasted pumpkins when I set out to make pumpkin puree from scratch.. so much so, I had to consciously stop myself from polishing it off the whole lot from the baking pan armed with a teaspoon. Eventually once the craving monsters had been pacified, I settled down to think about the culinary fusion potential of this golden manna. Networking my neurons had me thinking about Bobby Flay's pumpkin soup that was served at his book signing event at Williams Sonoma, but to give this my own 'panfusine' touch, I recreated the taste of a little known pumpkin stew from Southern India, the 'thalagam'. Thalagam is made in south Indian homes for a festival honoring Lord Shiva, known as 'tiruvadhirai' celebrated in December. redolent with the aromas of toasted coconut & Sesame, the spicy stew is paired with sweetened rice grits. Flavors that most would have & probably will, never savor at any dining establishment. - Panfusine
Coconut sesame paste
- 1/2 cup fresh frozen grated coconut
- 1 tablespoon Split dehusked Urad Dal
- 1 tablespoon split garbanzo beans (chana dal)
- 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1-2 dried arbol chile
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon plain uncooked rice grains
Roasted pumpkin soup
- 2 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree from a roasted pumpkin
- 1/2-1 teaspoon tamarind extract
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1-2 cup water
- Salt to taste
- Dollops of creme Fraiche or sour cream
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- To obtain the pumpkin puree, cut wedges of pumpkin removing the seeds & the central 'webbing' , brush with olive oil & bake in a 400 F oven for about 45 minutes to 1 hr. Allow to cool & scoop out the required amount (2 cups) of pumpkin.
- In a skillet on low heat, toast the coconut till it turns a reddish brown. Set aside.
- Using the same pan, dry roast all the lentils, rice & the fenugreek till they turn a light brown color, add these to the coconut & repeat the process for the sesame & arbol chiles (cut the chiles into pieces to facilitate browning). Toast the sesame till the seeds begin popping.
- Combine all the ingredients together and grind to a smooth paste using as little water as possible. Set aside
- In a crock pot, combine the pumpkin puree, tamarind extract, turmeric, salt and water and cook on medium heat till the flavors combine (~ 15 min)
- Add the sesame & coconut spice blend to the pumpkin mix and simmer on a low heat for about 15 minutes, adding extra water if the mix is too thick. The predominating aroma will be that of the toasted sesame.
- Remove from heat, allow to cool. Process in a blender till smooth & strain (the toasted dals & coconut will otherwise add a gritty component to the texture.). Simmer on low heat to maintain the level of warmth you prefer.
- Heat the ghee on low heat, add the curry leaves and allow to fry till they're crisp (but still retain their green color)
- Serve warm with a dollop of Creme Fraiche or sour cream and garnished with the crisp curry leaves.