Often, during my discussions with others, when people find out that I hail from Ratnagiri, one of the most beautiful areas in the picturesque Konkan coast, the inevitable question that I get often posed with is “so you must be adept in sea-food and non-vegetarian dishes”?
While I won’t deny my inclination towards sea-food and non-veg meal, what bothers me is the flawed nature of the understanding that has seeped into people who don’t hail from this part of country. The widespread attitude of generalization often impedes our ability to delve deeper and gain further knowledge about a cuisine of any region. So for one who is interested, it won’t take much probing to figure out that Konkani cuisine is not just about red fish curries and coconut.
Vegetarian food is very much part of our routine life. Konkan has rich tract of farming land and coupled with abundance of water-primarily due to Konkan receiving heavy rainfall, different types of crop are cultivated in Konkan. Rice farming is hugely popular in this part of country, besides other crops like Ragi and legumes. Vegetables also form a significant part of our lives and are produced during non-rainy season. Fruits are another important addition in a Konkani cuisine. Fruits like Jack fruit, coconut, cashewnuts, Kokum are produced here and get supplied in various parts of country.
When it comes to inclusion of these food items in our meal, we are liberal in the usage of fruits, vegetables and legumes.
In Konkan, different festivals-that commence from the month of Shravan to the concluding day of Navratri in Ashwin month-are celebrated with Satvik diet. During these months, all seasonal vegetables, lentils and gourds find a prominent place on the meal served on banana leaf. It is no coincidence that these months are the ideal time for the reproduction of fishes in sea and fresh water. This shows how well conventional wisdom aligns itself with the rule of the nature and how this shapes the cuisine of a region.
Red Pumpkin is a prominent vegetable in our cuisine. Some very significant and hugely popular recipes are made with pumpkin. Typically a kharif crop, pumpkin is available round the year! A dessert recipe of kheer is made with red pumpkin as it has sweet taste of its own. For Gauri Pujan, Bhoplyache Gharge or Pooris are a must serve delicacy!
The recipe today we are going to share with you is a humble preparation called- Bhoplyachi Bhaji, red pumpkin – tempered with fresh curry leaves and finally finished with fresh grated coconut! A perfect for your Tiffin recipe and if you skip onion & garlic, this is the preparation ideal for those days when you prefer a Satvic diet.
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- 500 grams Pumpkin, Peeled and cut into medium sized cubes
- ¾th cup=90gms grated fresh coconut
- 2 medium sized=150 gms Onions (sliced lengthwise)
- Cooking Oil
- 1-1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
- 2 tsp Cumin Seeds
- ¼th tsp Asafoetida Powder
- 8-10 Curry Leaves
- 4 Green Chilies (finely chopped)
- 5-6 Cloves of Garlic (finely chopped)
- 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
- Heat 3 tbsp. Oil in a Pan. Add Mustard Seeds. As it begins to splutter, add Cumin Seeds, Asafoetida Powder and Chopped Garlic.
- Fry until Garlic turns light brown in color. Add Curry Leaves, Green Chilies and mix.
- Add sliced Onions and fry until Onions become tender. As Onions become tender, add Turmeric Powder.
- Red Pumpkin has a sweet taste and hence we have added 4 green chilies to balance sweetness. You may alter the quantity of Chili in the recipe to suit your taste.
- Add Pumpkin and mix. Reduce heat and cook covered.
- After 5 mins, give it a stir. You must stir intermittently to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook covered.
- Check if the pumpkin has cooked. With a knife, we will check if the pieces have become soft. We have cooked on low heat for 15 mins. Add salt to taste. Ensure you do not break the pieces while stirring.
- Add Grated Coconut. Stir in the grated coconut and switch off the heat
- Bhoplyachi Bhaji can be served with Chapati/Phulka/Rice flour Bhakri or Jowar Bhakri
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