I am doing 'Andhra Vegetarian Recipes' series this month, going in an alphabetical order, as part of the April mega marathon of our blogging marathon group. This month's challenge was called 'Journey through the Cuisines' and the recipe names were supposed to be in the regional language. Owing to the difficulty of finding recipes with regional names for certain alphabets, it was decided that we could use an exemption clause for any three alphabets of our choice and could go with English names instead. I had decided at the beginning that I would use that exemption card for the last three alphabets and so, I had cooked 'yard long beans' Andhra style curry, for today's post.
I started cooking recipes for this month series, going in a reverse order and so this week's dishes were cooked first. The problem with me is that when I cook dishes in advance, I start having second thoughts about my clicks or the recipes I choose. I always end up cooking other dishes and this marathon, I had cooked 2 to 3 dishes for many alphabets. The same happened with my initial recipe choice for today's post. I knew that the curry I was planning to post is prepared in a neighboring state as well making it not unique to the region. Besides, I wanted to see if I overlooked any vegetables that would fit my 'Y' criteria today. After giving the matter a little thought, I realized that I indeed forgot about one.
It was erra gummadi which happens to be pumpkin in English. I had noticed earlier, many bloggers referring to it as yerra gummadi as well and so, I had my 'Y' ingredient to work on. The reason I overlooked it in the first place is because it is never referred as so in our homes. Both ash-gourd / winter melon and pumpkin are called gummadikaya in Telugu, though with different tags. The ash gourd is called 'boodidha gummadi' where the word 'boodidha' literally means 'ash' in Telugu. Whereas pumpkin is referred to as 'theepi gummadi' (the sweet one) or 'manchi gummadi' in our homes. It seems that the same pumpkin is referred to as 'erra gummadi (also spelled as 'yerra gummadi') in some of the regions though I don't know where. It literally means the red colored one and even my mother didn't know it was called so. She was wondering why you call a fruit red one when it is of orange hue. However I noticed during this marathon that the pumpkin has the red tag in other Indian regional languages as well. And after, I realized that the word 'erra' can be also written as 'yerra', I had other options as well to go with for my "Y' post today but I decided to stick with this yerra gummadi.
Now the next step was to decide what to prepare with it. I had already blogged about halwa and so that choice was ruled out. I had the option of preparing a koora / curry or a pulusu / stew using the pumpkin. My mother prepares curry using ash gourd but not the pumpkin. Besides, I wasn't even sure whether my husband could stand the sweet flavor in a curry and so I went with the latter choice. I prepared two versions, one using lentils and one without. The version I am posting today is without lentils and is called theeya pulusu in our homes. It is served with mudda pappu / cooked lentils in our homes, when a thinner version is made. My version today is thicker and can be served alone with rice and ghee. The pumpkin in the recipe can be replaced with green mango, sweet potato, bitter gourd, cucumber, eggplants, okra or even plain onions. This pulusu is prepared on the same lines as the wadiyala pulusu I posted earlier.
A pulusu is a stew from Andhra that can be prepared using lentils or without lentils. In coastal areas, a lentil and vegetable based pulusu (pappu pulusu) is one of the main dishes prepared on a daily basis in place of sambhar. It doesn't include any addition of spice paste or powders and would be a melange of balanced flavors. This is what I grew up eating and even now if I have a choice, my vote goes to pulusu among the Indian legume varieties. I wasn't used to spicy concoctions and had a really hard time adjusting to sambhar version after my marriage. When preparing a pulusu without lentils, we usually call it otti pulusu (otti means nothing and used here in reference to the absence of lentils) or theeya pulusu (sweet one) or even neella pulusu (watery stew). Theeya pulusu is prepared on death anniversaries too in some brahmin households, like my husband's for instance. However I keep the lentil less versions on a thicker side.
Whether a pulusu is prepared using lentils or without, the sweet, spicy and tangy flavors should be balanced. It may take a little experience to prepare a stew with perfectly balanced flavors. And it is hard to give perfect measurements / teach the balance through a recipe, since no two tamarind / jaggery taste the same. One can taste while preparing the stew and can adjust the seasonings as needed. I am used to this version of pulusu and kind of mastered it and my husband when bored of other dishes, asks me to prepare a pulusu.
Ingredients: (Yield 3 servings)
1 cup peeled and cubed pumpkin pieces
2 tsp. oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
A sprig of curry leaves
2 pinches of asafoetida
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
2 tbsp. chickpea flour / senaga pindi *
1&1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Salt to taste
3 tbsp. tamarind juice
1 to 2 tbsp sugar / jaggery (I used 2 gm / 3/4 tsp. Splenda)
( * or a paste made with 2 tbsp. rice flour and water can be used.)
* Soak about a big lemon sized tamarind in water until it softens or nuke the tamarind and water in a microwave for 3 minutes. Squeeze the pulp and extract thick juice.
* Cook the pumpkin pieces with little water in a microwave, without turning them mushy.
* Add chickpea flour / rice flour and a few tbsp. of water to a small cup and make a smooth paste. I added 2 tbsp. of toasted chickpea flour instead. Rice flour or chickpea flour is used to thicken the stew here since lentils are not used.
* Heat 2 tsp. oil in a sauté pan and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When mustard seeds start to pop, add curry leaves, asafoetida and turmeric. (If pumpkin pieces are not cooked in the microwave before, they can be added along with the water now and cooked until done.)
* Next add the cooked pumpkin pieces along with the water used to cook them, tamarind juice, jaggery, chili powder, salt, chickpea flour (or rice flour paste) and about 1&1/2 cups of water to the pan.
* Mix everything with a ladle and check the consistency. It thickens while cooking and the final pulusu should be of pourable consistency like sambhar. Add extra water if necessary and bring the mixture to a boil. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. There must be a balance between the dominant flavors of the dish.
* Lower the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes more.
* Serve with rice and ghee, as part of a Andhra meal.
So far on my 'A - Z' Andhra Cuisine,
A for Alasanda Vada
B for Bellam Garelu
C for Chiyali
D for Dondakaaya Kaarapu Kaaya
E for Endu Kobbari Podi
F for Fine Biscuits
G for Gongura - Mamidikaya Pappu
H for Halwa Holigalu
I for Idli Karam Podi
J for Janthikalu
K for Kobbari Koora
L for Lauzu
M for Matikkaaya Kaaram Koora
N for Nimmakaaya Kaaram
O for Ottotti
P for Perugu Vadalu
Q for Qubani ka Meetha
R for Ragi Sangati
S for Satyanarayana Vrata Prasadam
T for Theepi Dibba Rotte
U for Usirikaaya Pulihora
V for Vankaya Kothimira Karam Koora
W for Wadiyala Pulusu
X for Xtra Spicy Hot Andhra Aavakaaya
Check out the >Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 63.