Punjabi-style Potatoes and Cauliflower

potatoes in panMy colleague Purva told me a version of this vegetarian recipe made by her mother, who comes from the Punjabi region of India. Purva says onion, ginger and garlic are the base of Indian cooking. She cautioned me to always add garam masala at the end. Turmeric powder adds a nice yellow color and is reputed to have many health benefits.

To make this a vegan dish, omit the butter.

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1 large head cauliflower

4 large Russet potatoes

1 large yellow onion

4 Tb olive oil, divided

1/2 tsp powdered ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp powdered turmeric

1 tsp cumin

1 – 2 tsp sea salt (to taste)

½ tsp black pepper

1 tsp whole mustard seeds

2 tsp melted butter (optional)

1 tsp garam masala

Preheat oven to 400°F.

???????????????????????????????Cut cauliflower into florets, and then cut florets in quarters or smaller pieces. Place in an oiled shallow baking dish. Drizzle with 2 Tb olive oil and toss gently. Spread in a single layer and roast for 20 minutes until it begins to brown.

Peel potatoes, slice in half lengthwise, and then slice crosswise thickly.  Place in a large pot of boiling water, so that the water covers them by 3 inches, and cook for 25 minutes until soft.

???????????????????????????????While potatoes and cauliflower are cooking, stir whole mustard seeds in a dry frying pan over medium flame until they begin to pop. Set aside.

???????????????????????????????Chop onion into small pieces. Sauté in remaining 2 Tb olive oil until soft, and then add minced garlic, and sauté another minute. Stir in mustard seeds, ginger, turmeric, cumin, pepper and salt.

???????????????????????????????When potatoes are soft, drain, and then mash with a potato masher in the big pot.

DSC03390Add the cauliflower mixture to the potatoes and stir until well combined.

Stir in melted butter and garam masala, and adjust salt.

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Fresh Pumpkin – Kabocha Pie with Maple Syrup and Garam Masala

pie with fluted edgeI added kabocha squash to fresh pumpkin and sweetened this pie with maple syrup. A bit of the Punjabi spice blend garam masala adds an exotic highlight to this Thanksgiving favorite.
I make the pie on Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day. I like to roast and puree the pumpkin and Kabocha squash on Tuesday night so it will be all ready on Wednesday.

Prepare a pie crust ahead of time and freeze it
DSC03214I use a Sugar Pie pumpkin. Just the name gets me singing Sugar Pie Honey! These are available at farmer’s markets and produce markets such as Berkeley Bowl or Monterey Market in Berkeley. They are slightly smaller than a basketball. They have more flesh and are less fibrous than a Halloween jack-o-lantern pumpkin. You will need about 1 3/4  pounds per pie.

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I add kabocha squash, which is sweeter  than the pumpkin. Its texture and flavor resemble chestnuts.

You can do this part ahead of time. Pierce pumpkin and kabocha several times and place on oiled roasting pan. Roast at 450◦ for 45 minutes until soft. Place it on a large plate and cut off the stem. Use a knife to coax the peel off; it should easily come off.

Let the pumpkin and kabocha cool enough to handle. Discard the seeds and stringy pulp.

???????????????????????????????Put the flesh of the pumpkin in the food processor. Process until smooth.

??????????????????????????????? Since the puree is too watery for pie, pour it into a fine sieve over a bowl. Place a bowl on top of the puree and several heavy cans on top of the bowl. Let it drain for an hour.

Measure 1 1/4 cups of drained puree. Reserve the liquid  to add to squash soup such as Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup or butternut squash soup. You can put extra puree in those soups or save it for Fresh Pumpkin Spice Muffins.

Puree about 1/2 cup of the kabocha squash and measure the pureed squash to be sure you have 1/2 cup. You can put extra Kabocha in Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup .

Blind bake foil or parchment covered pie crust with pie weights or beans for 15 minutes at 425◦ While crust is baking, prepare filling

Ingredients: Have all ingredients at room temperature. (You can warm the eggs in a bowl of warm water.)

1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree, drained and 1/2 cup kabocha puree. (You can substitute a 15-oz can of pumpkin for both squashes, but it won’t be as good.)
2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 ½ cups (one 12-oz can) evaporated milk,
1½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp salt

1 egg to brush on crust

Put pumpkin-kabocha puree in large bowl under a mixer.
Add rest of ingredients and beat well.

brush egg on bottom of crustRemove crust from oven, remove pie weights and foil or parchment, and brush the bottom and lower part of the sides of the crust with a beaten egg. This will prevent the crust from getting too soggy. Place the crust back in the oven for 5  minutes until sides are light brown.

Remove crust from the oven and lower oven temperature to 375◦

As soon as oven is ready, pour pumpkin pie filling into the crust. Place a circular crust protector over it so it won’t burn. Bake  for 40 minutes until the center just quivers when you wiggle the pan.

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Cool thoroughly on a rack and then refrigerate until Thanksgiving dinner is over and everyone is ready for dessert..

???????????????????????????????Serve with a dollop of freshly whipped cream sweetened with pure maple syrup.

Creamy Spicy Kabocha Soup

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This smooth rich soup is made with nutty kabocha squash and seasoned with cumin and spicy garam masala. Although it is rich and creamy, it uses no cream; only 1% milk and broth.

You can roast the squash ahead of time. Use leftover squash for other dishes or freeze for future soups.

serves 3 bowls

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Stab whole kabocha several times and place on a foil-lined heavy pan. Roast for 1 hour at 450◦

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Cut top off then let cool. Cut flesh from peel and into chunks, and discard stringy seed pod

3 cups squash chunks

1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth

2 cups 1% milk

3 cups squash chunks

Heat broth and milk and add squash. Let squash sit in warm liquid for 15 minute to soften.

Blend in batches.

Stir in ½ -1 tsp salt to taste

½ tsp cumin

a pinch to ¼ tsp garam masala to taste

Heat soup until ready to serve

Toast ¼ cup pepitas (green shelled pumpkin seeds) on a comal or heavy skillet and toss on top of soup to garnish