Erisseri – Savory Pumpkin Stew Kerala Style



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   one  of  these   vegetables.  Erisseri was  definitely on the  menu the  following  week.  Mom  was  happy  to make it because  beans  and   vegetables  served  over  rice is  itself 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.

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.   Of  these one ,  Erisseri , is  a must  have dish  for a   Kerala Sadya.    Erisseri 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.

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 .


Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour



Dry Red Beans - 1/3 C
Pumpkin - 3 C sliced
Turmeric - 1/4 Tsp
Salt - 1/2 Tsp (Adjust to Taste)
Cracked Pepper - 1/2 - 1 Tsp (To Taste)
Grated Coconut - 1/2 C (Loosely Packed)
Cumin - 1/2 Tsp
Coconut Oil - 1 to 2 Tbsp
Mustard - 1/2 Tsp
Split Urad Dal - 1 Tsp
Dried Red Chili - 3 to 4
Curry Leaves - 1-2 Sprigs


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 .

Soak  the  beans  in plenty of  water  for a couple  of  hours. Drain  and rinse  the  beans .  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  nd  cook  for  5  to 10 minutes  till   the  pumpkin is  soft .

Reserve  2  to 3  Tablespoons  of  grated  coconut  and   grind  the  rest   along  with the  cumin adding  enough  water  to  make a  smooth paste.

Add  salt  and  pepper  mix  well . Reduce  the  heat  to low .  Add the  ground  paste  stir  adjust  seasoning  and turn off the  heat . Do not  let  the  erisseri  boil .

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 the   reserved  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.

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