Erisseri – Savory Pumpkin Stew Kerala Style

Pumpkin and beans in a mild coconut curry

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.

Pumpkin and beans in a mild coconut curry

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.

Steps to make Erisseri the curried pumpkin and beans

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.

Pumpkin and beans in a mild coconut curry

 

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
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

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. 

Course: side
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4
Author: Syama
Ingredients
  • 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
Seasoning
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp Mustard
  • 1 Tsp Split Urad Dal
  • 3 - 4 Dried Red Chili
  • 1 - 2 Sprigs Curry Leaves
Instructions
  1. Soak the dry red beans in plenty of water for a couple of hours , preferably overnight. Drain the soaking liquid and rinse.
  2. 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 .
  3. Skin and slice the pumpkins into even bite sized pieces .
  4. Reserve 2 to 3 Tablespoons of grated coconut and grind the rest with cumin seed to a smooth paste.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Serve with steamed rice .
Recipe Notes

Coconut oil is the preferred oil , but in a pinch use ghee or any neutral flavor oil .

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Pumpkin and beans in a mild coconut curry

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