A lot of my friends and family members often complain about how Microwave cooking is unsuitable for Indian cooking; and how most of them end up using the microwave just for reheating food. I agree with them partly, owing to the fact that the technique of making a tadka/phodni/vaghar or tempering of spices in oil, which is so central to Indian cooking cannot be achieved in a microwave, where the cook doesn’t really have direct control over the heat.
However, that said and done, I still find it a very useful way to cook many Indian dishes; either for doing some early preps; or for cooking the entire dish, either after separately adding the tadka, or finding suitable alternatives. I find it extremely convenient when I am stretched for time to finish all my cooking, as cooking time is very less and secondly, it gives me an alternative when my gas stoves are occupied.
This pumpkin recipe is a regular feature in our family meals, especially during religious festivals like the Gauri pooja (during Ganesh festival) when several different types of salads and raitas are a part of offering to the goddesses. Although this one isn’t a bharit/bharta in the truest sense, for its more like a koshimbir or raita as it contains yogurt, I guess it’s the mashing step in the recipe that gives it the name. I really like this one, as this traditional recipe has a nice blend of different flavors, the sweetness from the pumpkin, heat from the chilies, acidity from the yougurt, bitterness from the fenugreek seeds and ofcourse saltiness; and in that way it does justice to the ayurvedic principle of incorporating all the different tastes in order to achieve a wholesome balance.
In this recipe, I have made a tadka separately and then done the cooking in the microwave. If you do not wish to use the microwave, you can cook the pumpkin with the tadka on a slow flame, while keeping the pan covered as well.
250g Pumpkin (Laal Bhopla), peeled and chopped into 1”pieces;
½ tbsp crushed roasted peanuts;
3-4 green chilies or as per your taste (Hirvi mirchi/hari mirch), finely chopped;
1/4th tsp mustard seeds (mohri/rai);
½ tsp fenugreek seeds (Methi dana);
4-5 curry leaves;
A pinch of asafetida;
½ tbsp oil;
Salt to taste.