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Pumpkin Halwa, a Sweet Indian Recipe
What is Pumpkin Halwa?
Pumpkin Halwa is a great dish that is sometimes made around Diwali, or the Indian Festival of Lights. Halwa, or Pumpkin Halwa is more of a sweet dish, that is made with wheat or semolina when made in South Asia. It is made often made with nuts however, in India. You can find recipes for Carrot Halwa, and people like to use butternut squash sometimes.
Some use the Ash Gourd also known as ash pumpkin (Pooshanikkai or Petta). These are known to have great health benefits and medicinal value. The shape of this gourd is round or sometimes oblong. You can see a powdery ashy coating on the skin, and thus see the reason for the name. Its a natural defense from micro organisms, this ashy exterior. It allows the life of the gourd to last quite long, even up to a year (without refrigeration, which is amazing).
The gourd has some calcium, iodine, fluorine in it, among other things. It has a diuretic quality to it as well. Some people eat the green shoots, leaves, and tendrils from this gourd. The neat thing is you can make meals that are more of a main dish recipe or stick with the sweeter dishes.
There is an interesting superstition surrounding this gourd on New Moon Day. It is not uncommon to see one smashed in front of people's homes or shops. They often put a smearing of red kumkum. This is said to remove the evil eye.
Many refer to halwa part of Pumpkin Halwa as halva, halvah, helwa, or halveh. There are more variations as well, like chalvas, helva, or helawa. I think it would be great to try out this recipe when you are carving your pumpkins in the fall. Why not use up the pumpkin in this way and try a new Indian recipe?
One Recipe for Pumpkin Halwa
Pumpkin Halwa Ingredients:
Four cups of grated white pumpkin (or other variation that you may like)
Two cups of sugar
Ten Cashews (one of my favorite nuts)
Three powdered cardamom pods
Two Tablespoons of Ghee
Two Saffron strands that have been dissolved in one Tablespoon of hot milk.
Carrot, finely grated for the orange color it can give and added nutrients. (optional)
First, Peel off the outer skin of the white pumpkin. Grate the pumpkin.
Second, put the grated pumpkin into a small dish. Put into a microwave for about 2-3 minutes until it is cooked or tender. Do not overcook it.
Third, let it cool, and strain our pumpkin if need be. Squeeze any extra water.
Next, In a saucepan or wok, add the ghee. Roast the raisins in the ghee until they get plump and until the cashews are a bit golden in color. Remove these and set them aside.
Next, saute the pumpkin pulp in the same pan for a few minutes. Then add the sugar, and saffron mixture. Stir well. The Pumpkin Halwa will become a mass, and if needed you can add some more ghee. Add remaining ghee, and the cardamom powder. Stir on a low flame till the ghee separates from the pumpkin.
Use the cashews and raisins as a garnish. Best served hot. Enjoy!