Erisseri is a a typical Kerala dish, made with usually made with pumpkins and beans. Just ripe or raw pumpins can be used in this dish. It is an essential part of the traditional festive meals (sadya). Cooked pumpkins and beans are mixed with ground coconut paste. Cumin and turmeric are used to season at this stage . Toasted coconut and seasonings (tadka) are added as the final step , giving the dish extra depth of flavors.
Pumpkins and gourds are not used as decoration but occupy a central place in the culinary scene of South India. These are available in the vegetable markets throughout the year. A variety of dishes savory to sweet are prepared with them. Erisseri is one such dish . It can be prepared using a variety of vegetables/fruits and beans , raw plantains , elephant yam , red beans , pigeon peas etc. My favorite among them is the one made with ripe/raw pumpkins and red beans.
My aunt B was blessed with incredible green thumb. No matter the time of the year there always were vegetables to be harvested from her backyard – pumpkins, amaranth, elephant foot yam, long beans , okra .. the list goes on. A visit to aunt B’s home meant that we could skip the weekly vegetable run.
Her cellar was the place to go to for pumpkins, gourds and yams. She was generous with her bountiful produce. Rarely have any us left her place without a sizable stash of produce. If we were to visit here erisseri was definitely on the menu the following week.
Mom was happy to make it because beans and vegetables served over rice in itself is a balanced meal. We loved the play of tastes, texture and fragrance – a bit spicy, nutty and a hint of sweetness. This definitely was a win win situation.
Like many other recipes from the region this is a simple one as well. The recipe itself should be easy to follow. If not the step by step instructions below should help.
Usually this dish is made with a vegetable and a dried bean usually red bean or similar. The beans need to be soaked overnight (at least 8 hours) before cooking. Drain and rinse the soaked beans and cook in about 1 1/2 C water for about 10 minutes till soft. Alternately pressure cook the beans till done . Skin and hop the pumpkin into bite size pieces . Add the pumpkin pieces and turmeric to the cooked beans along with 1/4 C water if the beans are dry . Cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes till the pumpkin is soft .
Grind coconut with cumin adding enough water to make a smooth paste. Add salt and pepper to the vegetables and mix well . Reduce the heat to low and add the ground paste . At this point keep the heat low and do not let the erisseri boil .
It is time to season the curry. In a small pan or kadai heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil . Add the mustard and urad dal to the hot oil . When the mustard seeds splutter add the red chili pieces and curry leaf to it . Fry it till the chili almost browns . Add a few tablespoons of coconut to this . Stir fry the coconut till it is browned evenly . Turn off the heat .
Pour the seasonings over the curry, reserving a little for garnish later. Let it rest for a bit . Mix before transferring to the serving bowls and top with the reserved seasoning.
Like many other recipes from South India this is a low calorie and high nutrition dish. it is naturally vegan and gluten free. Serve with rice and for a well balanced vegan meal .
Here is the recipe for making Erisseri with pumpkin and beans.
Erisseri is a traditional Kerala dish made with pumpkins and beans. Cooked pumpkin and beans are flavored with coconut and mild spices. The dish is finished off by adding seasoned oil and spices along with toasted coconut.
- 1/3 C Dry Red Beans
- 3 C Pumpkin sliced
- 1/4 Tsp Turmeric
- 1/2 Tsp Salt Adjust to Taste
- 1/2 - 1 Tsp Cracked Pepper To Taste
- 1/2 C Grated Coconut Loosely Packed - Divided use
- 1/2 Tsp Cumin
- 1 - 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1/2 Tsp Mustard
- 1 Tsp Split Urad Dal
- 3 - 4 Dried Red Chili
- 1 - 2 Sprigs Curry Leaves
- Soak the dry red beans in plenty of water for a couple of hours , preferably overnight. Drain the soaking liquid and rinse.
- In a thick bottomed pan take one and half cups of water and the beans and cook till the beans are done about 15 to 20 minutes. Or alternately pressure cook the beans .
- Skin and slice the pumpkins into even bite sized pieces .
- Reserve 2 to 3 Tablespoons of grated coconut and grind the rest with cumin seed to a smooth paste.
- Once the beans are cooked add the sliced pumpkins, turmeric and salt . Cover and cook till the pumpkins are soft ,5 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the crushed pepper along with the ground coconut. Mix well and taste. Adjust seasonings and turn off the heat.
- Heat 1 to 2 Tbsp oil in a small pan (kadai). Add the urad dal and the mustard seeds . Once the seeds crackle add the broken red chilies and curry leaves. Let the chilies smoke and add the reserved grated coconut . Stir fry the coconut till it is browned evenly . Turn off the heat and pour the seasonings along with the oil on top the erissery.
- Serve with steamed rice .
Coconut oil is the preferred oil , but in a pinch use ghee or any neutral flavor oil .