Story of our Humble Kaddu – A Sweet Traditional Delight – Slurrp

November 10, 2022

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Story of our Humble Kaddu – A Sweet Traditional Delight 
Updated : November 10, 2022 04:11 IST
'Kaddu's delicious sweet taste, the unique jelly-like squashy texture, and its ability to combine with various other ingredients make it an essential vegetable for the cuisines of India
‘Kaddu’, or the Indian pumpkin, is no ordinary vegetable. Especially in India, ‘Kaddu’ is widely grown and is available in all parts of the country. ‘Kaddu’, thus, has many culinary usages in the regional cuisines of India. It’s not surprising that ‘Kaddu’ (Pumpkin) is widely considered as the ‘National Vegetable of India’. 
Also Read: Your Obligatory Fall Pumpkin Spice Post
Belonging to the ‘Gourd Family’, Pumpkin and its cousins, like ‘Ash gourd’ (Petha), ‘Bottle Gourd’ (Lauki)’ etc., are used in preparing sweet and spicy curries, as well as sweet dishes across India.  ‘Kaddu’s delicious sweet taste, the unique jelly-like squashy texture, and its ability to combine with various other ingredients make it an essential vegetable for the cuisines of India.

‘Kaddu’ Ki Teekhi – Khatti – Meethi Sabzi 
The best use of ‘Kaddu’ as a vegetable is done by elevating the original sweet profile of the pumpkin to prepare a spicy curry. Chillies and spices are added to an otherwise sweet and soft ingredient like Pumpkin, creating a ‘Yin and Yang’ effect (opposite flavours). ‘Amchoor’ (Dry Mango Powder) is added to provide the sour (Khatta Taste), giving this dish an addictive flavour. 
In the ‘Braj’ (Mathura – Vrindavan Belt) region, No ‘Bhandara meal’ is complete without serving ‘Kaddu’, also known as ‘Kashiphal’, to the devotees. Eaten along with fried pooris, ‘Kadoo ki sabzi’ is a quintessential temple food in many states of India. 
‘Kaddu’ Ka Bharta 
The soft texture of ‘Kaddu’ allows it to be mashed well and mixed with herbs and spices perfectly, creating ‘Bharta’ preparation out of the Indian Pumpkin. Try the recipe of the famous ‘Baingan ka Bharta’, replacing ‘Baingan’ with ‘Kaddu’; keep the dish spicy with the natural sweetness of ‘Kaddu’, aiding the perfect balance of flavours. 
Pumpkin In South India 
As we travel down south, hundreds of recipes use ‘Kaddu’. ‘Dudhe Upkari’ is one such simple and delicious stir-fried pumpkin dish much loved in Karnataka for its sweet and spicy taste; asafoetida works wonderfully well to provide a delightful flavour to this no onion-no garlic recipe of South India. 
‘Avial’, The famous culinary representative of Kerala cuisine, uses the pumpkin to the best effect, cooking it with other fresh vegetables like beans, carrots, potatoes etc., as well as the flavour of coconut, which seems a tailor-made combination to enhance the taste of Pumpkin. 
‘Poosanikai Sambhar’ is a typical and loved style of sambhar preparation in South India, using pumpkin as a critical vegetable. Soft and sweet pumpkin adds fantastic flavour to the spicy and sour sambhar, making it even a preferred sambhar for ‘prasadams’ or ‘Bhog’ in Temples. 
‘Gummadikaya Pulusu’ (Andhra Pradesh / Telangana), ‘Mathanga Erissery’ ( Kerala), ‘Sihi Kumabalakayi Gojju’ ( Karnataka ), and ‘Arasanikai Kuzhambu’ ( Tamilnadu ) are a few fine examples of delicious curries made out of Pumpkin in India. 
East India 
‘Kumror Chokkha’ is a fantastic dish from Bengal showcasing Pumpkin’s deliciousness and the delectable flavour of Bengali cuisine, using the famed spice mix of ‘Panchphoran’ to prepare a beautifully sweet and spicy tempered pumpkin dish. 
Pumpkin and Ash gourd is used in various dishes in Assam; a sweet and sour chutney called ‘Pumpkin Oambal’, A delicious preparation known as ‘Haanh Kumora’, duck cooked with ash gourd are must-try dishes. 
‘Kakharu Phula Bhaja’, a unique dish from Odisha, uses pumpkin flowers to prepare delicious and crispy fritters. Pumpkin leaves (‘Kakharu Patra’) are used to prepare fantastic fried vadas in Odisha. 
Likewise, pumpkins, leaves and flowers are used in the cuisine of the states of Jharkhand, Bihar and Chattisgarh. 
Pumpkin / Ashgourd Sweets (‘Kaddu’ Sweets) 
Pumpkin is known worldwide for preparing unique sweets and desserts. ‘Ashgourd’ (Vegetable from the Pumpkin Family), also called ‘Petha’ (Sweet dish), is used to prepare regional sweet dishes in India. The craze is immense in Agra, where the crispy sweet ‘Pethas’ is prepared. No trip to Agra would be complete without eating the famous ‘Petha’ from the ‘Panchi Petha’ Shop. 
Agra’s ‘Pethas’ are primarily served in two variants, the conventional dry and crisp ‘Pethas’ and the soft and syrupy’ ‘Angoori Pethas’. Over the years, various innovations with shapes, sizes and flavours have resulted in hundreds of different flavours of Petha being sold in multiple ‘Petha’ shops across Agra. 
In Hyderabad, try the fantastic ‘Kaddu ki kheer’. Thickened milk flavoured with ‘Bottle gourd’, dry fruits, and ‘Kewra’ is a true testimony of the versatility of ‘Kaddu’ and the grand cuisine of Hyderabad. 

An Interesting take on ‘Kaddu’-based sweets can also be experienced in Karnataka, where a sweet style ‘Halwa’ is prepared, called ‘Kashi Halwa’, ‘Dumroot’ or ‘Kushmanda Halwa’. ‘Kashi Halwa’ is prepared with grated Ash gourd cooked in ghee, sweetened, and served garnished with cashews and raisins. Recently, while exploring the cuisines of South India, I visited the famous Karavalli Restaurant, At Vivanta by Taj, Residency Road. Chef Naren Thimmaiah, the legendary chef of Karavalli, prepared the ‘Kashi Halwa’ for us. It was the first time I tried a ‘Halwa’ made of Ashguard, and to say the least, about its addictive taste, we were blown over by the texture and flavours he extracted from a typical vegetable like Ash gourd. 
I recently tried a delicious version of this ‘Halwa’ at Sri Venkateshwara sweets in Gandhi Bazaar, Bengaluru; it’s called ‘Dumroot’, similar in preparation; however, the service style differed slightly from the ‘Kashi halwa’ I had tried at the Karavalli Restaurant. 
Mr Hari Prasad of Sri Venkateshwara sweets explained, ‘The Halwa made out of Ash gourd, is wrapped in Banana Leaves, and then baked with the charcoal heat. When the banana leaves get thoroughly charred, it is removed from the mound of ‘Dumroot’ and is ready to be eaten. Mr Prasad mentions how the charred and crispy outer layer of ‘Dumroot’ is loved by the true connoisseurs, as not just its crisp texture but the flavour of ghee, cardamon, and ‘Khoya’, as well as the crispy ash gourd, can be enjoyed in this single bite of ’Dumroot’. 
‘Kaddu Ki Barfi’ is also prepared in various households in India. ‘Kaddu’ and coconut, a classic combination, is also used to prepare another ‘Halwa’ preparation in south India. ‘Kaddu’’s versatility is well proven; however, it is worth mentioning pumpkin seeds as a snack or to provide richness and texture to gravies. Pumpkin seeds are added to smoothies, or granola, for their consistency and numerous health benefits. Pumpkin is a healthy, light-on-stomach vegetable, which people of all ages prefer. 
Although ‘Kaddu’, or Pumpkin, has widespread usage in India and Worldwide, ‘Kaddu’ is still gastronomically underrated. The distinct texture of ‘Kadoo’, and the myriad Indian ways to prepare this delicious produce, certainly deserve a prominent space on the gourmet menus across the country, especially when representing the diverse cuisines of India.  
Sidharth Bhan Gupta, is a Food and Beverage / Restaurant Consultant, Travelling across India on a Cultural and Culinary Exploration
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