Pumpkin 'Brain' Chutney

By • September 26, 2016 7 Comments

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Author Notes: As the name suggests, this chutney's key ingredient is the innards of the pumpkin, the web-like matter at the core that is always tossed out, which houses the seeds. It's a family favorite, and the recipe traces its origin to my great-grandmother who christened it with an equally bizarre Halloween-esque name: She called it 'Yaana Thalai' (which translates to elephant's head in Tamil) chutney. The reason why she called it that was apparently her grandkids (my dad included) would easily polish off a whole elephant head's worth in volume of the dish.
Crazy monikers aside, this is a standard favorite at home, eaten with hot plain rice or slathered on a warm roti (or even a slice of toast).
Some pumpkins have a better supply of the 'brain than others. I find that cheese pumpkins and calabaza squashes have a meatier webbing that yields more of the key ingredient for the chutney.
Panfusine

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Makes 3 cups

  • 1 cup webbing from the innards of a pumpkin
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 2 small onions, cut into eights
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon split, dehusked urad dal
  • 2-3 arbol chiles, broken into bits (adjust as per taste)
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
  • 1-2 teaspoons tamarind pulp OR
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • 1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  1. To harvest the pumpkin brains, simply quarter a smallish cheese pumpkin or calabaza and scoop out the central webbing. Using your fingers, remove all the seeds. Discard the seeds or use for something else.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and saute the onion till it turns translucent. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions into a bowl. Add the pumpkin innards to the remaining oil and saute on medium-low heat until the webbing softens and almost turns into pulp.
  3. In another skillet, add a tablespoon of oil and add the urad dal and the broken bits of Arbol chile, toast until the dal turn golden brown and emits a nutty aroma. Add the drained garbanzo beans along with the curry leaves and saute for about 3-4 minutes, Stir in the coconut and shut off the heat (you want the coconut to be warmed up a bit but not toasted)
  4. Add the onions, pumpkin webbing, and the garbanzo/coconut mix in a food processor, add tamarind (or lime juice), and salt to taste and process on high until the pumpkin innards, onions, and the garbanzo beans have completely blended, Sample and adjust for salt. Add in the cilantro (feel free to substitute with chopped mint or dill if you prefer) and give it a whirl for a minute more until the mix is homogenized. Transfer to a bowl.
  5. Heat the remaining oil and add the mustard seeds when the oil becomes hot. Once the mustard seeds sputter, add the mix to the chutney and stir in.
  6. Serve with hot plain rice and ghee, or roti. Alternatively, serve as a dip for chips.

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