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Savoring Fall — Cumin-Lime Pumpkin Mash

November 12, 2011

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” — George Eliot

Fall is a very earthy season.  Crisp air, fallen leaves, and trees changing hues make it very special.  For me, it’s a pleasant reminder of the holiday season ahead.  Most of all, fall brings us an abundance of harvest.

First thing that comes to my mind is pumpkin– the good old orange ball, greeting us at farm stands and grocery stores.  Big, small, mini, round, and some not so round– they all whisper, “Take me home.”  How can you  ignore these scrumptious beauties?  Even though they are not the easiest to peel, but if you can win that battle, there are endless ways to enjoy them, sweet or savory.

For a lot of us, our first thought when we think of pumpkin is pumpkin pie.  But I, on the other hand, love it in savory form.  It’s just my taste buds; they crave salt over sweet.  So today, I am making pumpkin mash flavored with cumin and lime.  The inspiration for this comes from my childhood memory.  A side dish that my mother used to prepare with very similar ingredients.  It was more like orange-colored mashed potatoes.  I have fond memories of having this dish with fried Indian bread.  Steaming hot puffed puris and pumpkin mash — a mouthful of flavor.  Whenever I make this recipe, it’s a sweet reminder of a bygone era that comes alive with this simple treat.

I have used canned pumpkin for this recipe because it’s convenient and comes in handy for instant gratification.  Add just a few more simple ingredients, and viola it is ready to savor.  Enjoy it as a side dish, spread or dip with your favorite crackers, bread or toasted pita.  Whatever your heart desires!  Make it your own.

Cumin:  An Earthy Spice

Cumin is one of my favorite spices.  Its smoky smell gives it a very unique characteristic, but  it should be used sparingly because of its potency.  So, a little goes a long way.  Cumin is widely used in Mediterranean, Indian, Mexican, and many more cuisines.  It is a perfect companion for soups, stews, curries and more, imparting wonderful depth and aroma.

This aromatic spice is available as seeds and in ground form.  If you are using ground cumin, freshly ground seeds are the best.  Dry roasting the seeds in a skillet or fry pan for a few minutes brings out its  flavor.  Whenever I roast cumin, its earthy aroma fills  the kitchen.  Today, I am grinding it with mortar and pestle, since my spice grinder has refused to cooperate.  I think it’s more aromatic when done with hands.

I love using it in a lot of Indian and Mediterranean recipes.  My favorite is to sprinkle freshly ground cumin on plain yogurt with a pinch of salt and a couple leaves of fresh mint.  It’s a match made in heaven.   A wonderful palate cleanser too!

   

  

Recipe

3 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, diced small
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
15 oz can pureed pumpkin
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon paprika
Pinch of chili flakes (optional)
¼ teaspoon cumin, ground
Juice of one lime
1-2 tablespoon pumpkin seeds, roasted
3-4 fresh mint leaves, chiffonade

Heat oil in medium non stick saute pan.  Cook onion on medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.  They should have caramel color.  Set aside half of the onions for garnish.  Add ginger to the remaining onions in the pan.  Stir for a few seconds and add the pumpkin puree, salt, paprika, chilli flakes (if using), cumin.  Cook for 10-12 minutes until raw taste of the pumpkin is gone.  Stir in lime juice.

To serve, put the pumpkin mash in a bowl.  Drizzle a tiny bit of oil.  Sprinkle a pinch of cumin and paprika.  Garnish with remaining half of the onions, pumpkin seeds and mint.

Goes wonderfully with a simple rustic loaf of homemade bread!

Enjoy and Celebrate Autumn’s Bounty!

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