November 10, 2004

Have you ever peeled a pumpkin?

I have been cooking unusual things since I was 18. This began when my then-boyfriend (who was Pakistani) taught me how to cook. Before I had dated him, I knew nothing about cooking. My childhood as a latch-key kid meant surviving on mustard and cheese sandwiches which left little room for cooking things that didn’t involve Chef Boyardee concoctions. So while I can cook a spiffy goat curry and my pantry includes a few ingredients that probably don’t have an English name much less equivalent, I am pretty clueless in the area of preparing American cuisine. I have no clue how one would go about making a brisket or roast – although I could maybe figure out a tuna casserole now, thanks to Average Jane.

Last night, I made a South Indian dish native to the state of Kerala called “erisheri” which is basically a curried pumpkin. I have wanted to make it for some time now, so when I came across some small pumpkins in the grocery store, I decided now was the time. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself as I struggled to peel the pumpkin. It struck me as odd, but there was really no other efficient way to get the meat out. However, it was worth the effort. The dish was wonderfully satisfying and solid. It was also surprisingly healthy – the entire pot included only 2 tablespoons of oil (I never cook with ghee or coconut oil - I firmly believe it's worth the sacrifice of authenticity to keep my arteries happily gurgling away). Everything else thrown in consisted of completely fresh ingredients. For once, I am actually looking forward to my lunch of leftovers today.

Next up? I have a recipe for bitter gourd that looks mighty interesting. Yum.

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