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Pumpkin Chickpea Curry / Soup

April 16, 2010

The real star of my Pumpkin Chickpea curry is Black Cardamom (featured bottom right in the image). Known in India as Badi Ilaichi, this rather ugly spice is related to Cardamom, but tastes warm and woody – more like Cinammon without the sweetness. Don’t judge the spice by the pod, it tastes absolutely heavenly.

Black Cardamom is used in a lot of North Indian and Pakistani cooking. Traditionally, the method is to just crush the pod, and drop it whole into the oil. For this particular curry, though, I like to use just the little black seeds inside, and discard the pod.

The Curry combines the silky smoothness of any yellow-fleshed squash/pumpkin, with the textures of chickpea skins and sesame seeds. If you want to convert this into a soup, leave the dried red chilli out, cook it a little longer and mash it up! The recipe follows:

भोपला छोले सब्ज़ी | Pumpkin Chickpea Curry

For 1 lb. (about 500g) of any yellow-fleshed squash/pumpkin, you need

500 g of Chickpeas, soaked in warm water for an hour (or) one can of Garbanzo beans
1 tbsp Sesame Seeds
2 pods of Black Cardamom seeds
1/2 tsp Ginger Powder
1 tbsp Brown Sugar (or) Jaggery
1 Dried Red Chilli, broken
1 Star Anise (optional)
1 cup of water
Salt to Taste

1. Slice the Pumkin as fine as you can. If you have any slightly pulpy Pumkin, this curry is the perfect use for it.

2. Heat some oil in a pot. Add the Black Cardamom seeds, Ginger Powder, broken Red Chilli, Star Anise and Sesame Seeds.

3. Fry till the Sesame  starts to brown, then add the Brown Sugar. Fry for a few seconds.

4. Now add the Pumpkin and Chickpeas. Fry it all for a minute or so.

5. Top up with water, add the salt, and bring to a boil.

6. Now cover the pot, and let the whole thing simmer for at least half an hour, or until the Pumkin is pulpy and the Chickpeas are cooked.

This Curry can be combined with Bread or Rotis, but my preference is to just have it with steaming white rice. If you’re going to turn this into a soup, it might be easier to just toss the whole thing into a pressure cooker. Either way, it makes for a warm and fulfilling dinner.

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