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 .
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.