From curries to sweets, this vegetable has a special place in the Indian cuisine
Today, most people associate pumpkins with Thanksgiving pies, salted and roasted seeds, and jack-o'-lanterns for Halloween, all of which are relatively recent ideas given the long record of the pumpkin. The Public Broadcasting Service claims how this squash was domesticated thousands of years ago in present-day Mexico. But how did the pumpkin come to be one of India's favourite winter dishes if it originated in Central America? How did the pumpkin get to India, then?
In "Indian food: A Historical Companion," Ibn Battuta discusses the migration of the pumpkin. It seems that millennia before the Atlantic Trade began, pumpkin gourds sailed across the ocean and dispersed their seeds on Indian soil. According to Battuta, the pumpkin has been used in Indian cuisine since 645 A.D., when it was first reported that it was growing there. This is because pumpkins are nutritious and have a pleasant flavour. There is very little food waste when it comes to pumpkins because the fruit's flesh is loaded with a variety of vitamins and minerals, and even the seeds are nutritious, according to health experts. A few of the reasons squash was incorporated into Indian cuisine are its nutritional advantages and the plant's capacity to withstand the cold.
During Indian holy festivals, the pumpkin is significant. It is popular to consume it during festivals like Makar Sankranti, when the fruit is prepared into pumpkin curry and sweet pumpkin raita. Because pumpkin is a cold-weather plant, it is very well-liked throughout particular seasons. Pumpkin, also known as "kaddu" in India, is frequently used in Kayastha festivals when it is chopped into cubes and served with, spices, and potatoes as a savoury, tangy meal. Kaddu is accessible to those who are fasting for holidays and is intended to be a way to enrich both the body and the soul. Those who follow fasting diets have it without the onions and use minimal amounts of salt.
The plant is highly prized for its flavorful fruit and decorative qualities. Indian cuisine uses pumpkins in many different ways. Kaddu ka Halwa and Agra ka Petha are two well-known desserts that use pumpkin as their major ingredient. Furthermore, it serves as a crucial component in south Indian delicacies like Sambhar and Kashi Halwa. White pumpkin is used in South Indian cuisine, whilst orange pumpkin is typically used in Kaddu recipes. Though they don't appear like their orange cousins, white pumpkins taste very identical to them, with the exception that they are typically a little sweeter. Kottu, a popular white pumpkin stew in South India, can lower blood pressure and offer vitamins. Another dish that is bound to appear on Bengali food platters is kumro chokkha, which is just ripe sweet pumpkins cooked gently with potatoes and a few other garnishes like Bengal gram and grated coconut. Up until a few years ago, luchi (a Bengali-style puri) with kumror chokka was a staple on wedding menus, but its popularity has since faded. Not just being a celebration delicacy in India, pumpkin is also a tasty and simple-to-prepare meal.