Sweet and savoury to taste, Kumror Chokka is a medley of vegetables and spices, and a Bengali staple too. This little curry goes well with rice, khichdi, roti as well as the Bengali version of puri, known as luchi. Try out the recipe before yellow pumpkins go out of season.
What do you have your puri with? This might seem like a simple question, but the answer does vary from region to region. In Punjab, whole wheat flour puris are usually served with black chickpeas curry and halwa. Halwa-puri is indeed quite the North Indian staple, but so is puri when paired with a simple Tari Wale Aloo or the rich Dum Aloo. In states like Gujarat, puris are not only served with potato curries, but also with Aam Ras—that summery bowl of mango puree we all love.
Come to Bengal, however, and the picture changes. Not only do we make our puris with refined flour or maida, and call them Luchi, but we have them with a plethora of dishes. Yes, the Dum Aloo makes a brilliant crossover here as well. The Cholar Dal, made with chana dal, toasted coconuts and a dash of sweetness, also pairs well with the Luchi. The more unusual pairings—though typical Bengali favourites—are the Luchi-Mangso ones where puris are paired with a chicken or mutton curry. But perhaps the best thing paired with Luchi, at least according to this author, is Kumror Chokka.
When North Indians pair puri with chole and halwa, the idea is to have something sweet and spicy on the plate. Similarly, Bengalis do the same thing with the Luchi-Kumror Chokka pairing. How? Well, for those who don’t know, Kumro refers to yellow pumpkin, also known as kaddu or kohra or petha. This veggie is sweet, and to offset its sweetness, Bengali cooks add a couple of things—potatoes, green chillies and black chickpeas. But something this versatile wouldn’t be limited to consumption only when paired with Luchi, right?
Kumror Chokka, therefore, isn’t just a perfectly balanced, sweet-and-savoury medley that we eat with Luchi. It’s a simple pumpkin-potato curry which goes well with rice, khichdi as well as roti. Since it’s prepared with ingredients that are considered to be Sattvik, it also gets prepared on special occasions like Saraswati and other pujas. Wondering how to cook up this delicious medley of vegetables? Here’s the recipe.
1 cup yellow pumpkin, diced
1 cup potatoes, diced
½ cup black chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 dry red chillies
1 bay leaf
½ tsp panch phoran
¼ tsp asafaoetida
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp ginger paste
Salt, to taste
1 tsp jaggery, grated
1 tsp coconut, grated (optional)
2 tbsp mustard oil
½ tsp ghee
Water, as required
1. Heat the mustard oil in a wok. Add the dry red chillies, bay leaf, panch phoran and asafaoetida, and let them splutter.
2. Now add the potatoes and black chickpeas, and saute them.
3. Add the ginger paste, diced pumpkin and mix well. Fry the veggies for 2 minutes.
4. Now add all the powdered spices and salt, and mix well. Add the grated coconut and saute the mix for another 5 minutes.
5. Add water, cover the wok and cook until the potatoes and pumpkin are all tender.
6. Add the jaggery, mix well, let the water dry out completely and then add a bit of ghee on top. You can also add some Bengali bhaja masala if you have any.
7. Serve hot with Luchi, rice, khichdi or rotis.