Over the years, Diwali has lost its acute edges in our world, and with that, the loudness and garishness have faded, too. The parties have gotten quieter, the firecrackers relegated to a few sparklers lit by our girls to honour the essence of the festival, and the tall order of lavish gift and sweet boxes have been replaced by humbler, more meaningful favours. Only, the recipient lists have gotten bigger..and with reason.
The prospect of a simple sit-down meal with the family seems so much more satisfying, and the thought that the dear ones we lost this year are looking down upon us with grace and love, seems to bring a curious sense of relief. In their memory, and in the hope that the grounding it will provide to the next generation will be strong, here is a simple recipe for Shrikhand, with the season’s flavour..sweet pumpkin, and hints of saffron and cardamom coursing through it. It’s mellow and perfect to take to a festive potluck, and just right to follow that home cooked meal on Diwali or the days leading up to it, too.
Happy Diwali! Wishing that we are all surrounded by love and light.
Pumpkin Shrikhand with Honey-roasted Pumpkin Seeds
- 3 cups thick curd
- 300g yellow pumpkin
- 2 teaspoons ghee
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 8-10 saffron threads
- 1 tablespoon warm milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 cardamoms
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup cream
- Place a cheesecloth in a large sieve and the sieve over a bowl. Pour the curd into the cloth, cover and place in the refrigerator for about 2-3 hours or until most of the whey has drained away and the curd is very thick.
- Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.
- Peel the skin of the pumpkin and remove the seeds and fibres. Cut the pumpkin into about 1″ pieces. Toss with the ghee and add a pinch of salt. Spread the cubes on a baking tray and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until tender and just starting to brown.
- Spread the pumpkin seeds on another small tray, drizzle the honey over them and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes or until brown. Set aside
- Soak the saffron in the warm milk and set aside.
- Grind the sugar with only the seeds of the cardamom pods and set aside. Reserve the skins for another use.
- Once the pumpkin is roasted, remove it from the oven and allow to cool. Grind the pumpkin cubes in a small mixer, adding the cream as needed to achieve a thick puree. Set aside.
- Transfer the hung curd to a bowl. Whisk until smooth.
- Add the pumpkin puree, sugar-cardamom mixture and the saffron with its soaking milk. Whisk the shrikhand well. Taste and adjust the sweetness.
- Transfer the shrikhand to a serving dish and top with the pumpkin seeds. Chill well before serving.
Oven-roasting concentrates the mild flavours of the pumpkin and removes its natural moisture effectively. However, you also can steam or pressure cook the pumpkin, grind it into a puree and then hang the puree in a cheesecloth to remove the excess water.
Don’t throw away the whey or water that you get while draining the curds or pumpkin! You can use these nutritious liquids to make dough, or in dals and soups.