Friday, December 2, 2011

Roasted Pumpkin with Chickpeas in Spiced Coconut Sauce

I have long suspected that there is much more to Indian food than the dishes we find on the menu in most of the Indian restaurants in the U.K.. The menus always follow the same format and seem to offer the same thing. Maybe I haven't been going to the right restaurants! 

I was delighted to find this gem of a book at a book-sale at work: 'Tasting India' by Christine Manfield. 

Christine is an Australian chef and has travelled extensively in India. It is a beautiful book with stunning photos of Indian landscapes contrasted against those of busy city life. What I like most is it is divided into regions and each chapter has an introduction to the region, it's history and their particular style of cooking. The book has over 250 recipes and many of them are vegetarian. Not a korma or vindaloo to be found.

This is my recipe inspired by this book. It involves a lot of grinding / puréeing so a mini chopper or good pestle and mortar is needed!

Roasted Pumpkin with Chickpeas in Spiced Coconut Sauce

Serves 4


-1 small pumpkin or butternut squash, skin and seeds removed
-1 tin chickpeas
-1 onion, peeled and chopped
-1 red chilli, chopped 
-3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
-3 cm chunk of ginger, peeled
-1 small tin chopped tomatoes (230g)
-1 tin coconut milk (400ml)
-Small handful unsalted peanuts
-1 tsp soy sauce
-1 tsp toasted sesame oil (optional)
-Sunflower oil for roasting/ frying

Spice mix:
-1 tsp coriander seeds
-1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
-1 star anise
-1/2 tsp peppercorns
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 250C. Chop the pumpkin into 2cm x 2cm cubes and spread out on a baking tray. Drizzle over some oil and coat the pieces. Roast until tender - about 20 -30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile put the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli into a food processor and pulse to a rough purée (I did this in a mini chopper, I found I needed a larger quantity for the blades to engage so I doubled the quantity and froze the rest for next time). 
3. In a spice grinder or good pestle and mortar grind the coriander and cardamom seeds, star anise and peppercorns. Mix with the ground cinnamon. If you prefer you can use some garam masala instead of this spice mix.
4. Heat 1 tbsp of sunflower oil in a large sauce pan and gently fry the onion/garlic/ginger/chilli purée for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the spice mix and cook for a further minute or two.
5. Add the coconut milk, tinned tomatoes, soy sauce, and toasted sesame oil to the pan and simmer for 5 - 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.
6. Meanwhile, toast the peanuts in a dry pan until browned. Place them in a plastic bag then use a rolling pin to bash them into small pieces. You could use a pestle and mortar if you have a good one.
7. Drain the chickpeas and add these, the roasted pumpkin and the ground peanuts to the sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes and season to taste.

Serve with rice. This curry is best left overnight in the fridge for the flavours to really develop, then reheated the next day.

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