I love pumpkins and squashes in all their bulbous, mottled, and warty forms. They are the defining vegetable of the autumn, so much more than just a Halloween novelty, and social beasts, too: their sweetness and density invite the company of nuts, seeds, spices and herbs. They’ll even hold their own against heavy hitters such as soy, miso or tamarind. Don’t forget to reserve the seeds for roasting – an excellent cook’s treat!
Pumpkin, lemongrass and lime leaf fritters with yoghurt dipping sauce (pictured above)
Crisp and fragrantly seasoned, these delicious fritters can be made with almost any vegetable, so you can nibble on them through the seasons. I use rice flour for extra crunch, but you could use an equal mixture of cornflour and plain flour, too.
Prep 20 min
Cook 10 min
400g kabocha squash, grated
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp grated ginger
1 heaped tsp finely chopped lemongrass
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 lime leaves, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 large handful finely chopped coriander
1 handful finely chopped Thai basil
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and crushed
1 tbsp soy sauce
100g rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
Neutral oil, for deep frying
For the dipping sauce
250g coconut yoghurt
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 green chilli, finely chopped
A large handful coriander leaves
1 tsp palm sugar or light brown sugar
Sea salt, to taste
To make the dipping sauce, roughly chop the coriander and blitz in a food processor with a couple of tablespoons of water until you have a rough paste. Add the remaining ingredients and blitz again. Scrape out into a bowl and keep refrigerated until you are ready to serve.
To make the fritters, simply mix together all the ingredients until sticky – add a tablespoon or two of water to bind if needed.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high flame. Once the oil is hot, turn down the heat to medium and carefully drop in heaped tablespoons of the mixture in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for a few minutes on either side, until crisp and golden, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with kitchen towel. Serve hot with the dipping sauce and a glass of something.
Braised pumpkin with tamarind, cashew nuts and coconut
The sourness of the tamarind works particularly well against the sweetness of the pumpkin here. You could use any variety of squash – from the big guys to smaller butternut or acorn squashes. This is a dry curry, so perfect to scoop up with dosas, puris or hot puffs of chapati.
Prep 15 min
Cook 30 min
1 tbsp coconut oil or rapeseed oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 pinch asafoetida
15 fresh curry leaves
1 cinnamon stick, broken up into pieces
1 star anise
1 dried red Kashmiri chilli, crumbled (optional)
30g grated ginger
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
200g tinned chopped tomatoes, roughly smashed
2 tbsp tamarind concentrate
1 tbsp jaggery or light brown sugar
750g pumpkin, peeled and cubed
1 generous handful cashew nuts, toasted
1 handful toasted desiccated coconut
Heat the oil in a large pan. As soon as it is shimmering hot, scatter in the mustard seeds. When they start to pop and sputter, chase with the asafoetida and curry leaves. Fry briefly until fragrant, then turn down the heat and add the cinnamon, star anise and dried chilli. Fry for 30 seconds before adding the ginger and chopped chilli, stir-frying until the ginger is fragrant and cooked. Pour in the tomatoes, tamarind and jaggery and cook for three to four minutes, until the jaggery has dissolved.
Tumble in the pumpkin, season well with salt and stir, making sure the pumpkin is well coated in the sauce. Cover the pan and cook for about 20 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally until the pumpkin is soft. Add the cashews, cover and cook for another five minutes. Finally, scatter over the coconut and stir. Serve hot or at room temperature.