Pachcha Mathan Erisseri (Spicy Pumpkin With Toasted Coconut)
Erisseri is a vegetable preparation from Kerala, without which a “sadya” (traditional feast) is incomplete. Erisseri, also an intrinsic part of Palakkad Iyer cuisine, features often as a part of the daily meal and is served as a side dish along with rice. The addition of toasted coconut, as the final step of cooking, gives the Erisseri its unique flavour and taste.
Here I have used the variety of pumpkin called pachcha mathan (green pumpkin), which is generally used to make Mathan Erisseri. In Kerala, and some other states of India, we get two varieties of pumpkin. One, which we call “Mathan”, is the typically yellow/ orange on the outside with a somewhat ribbed skin and a deeper orange on the inside. This is the kind one sees being carved for Halloween.
The other, which we call “Pachcha Mathan” is also the same shape and ridged but the outer skin is a mottled green and light yellow/ creamish colour while it is a pale orange/ yellow on the inside. This variety of pumpkin is tastier when cooked and I happened to come across it in the market here.
Erisseri can be made with various vegetables, depending on what is available seasonally, such as idichakkai (bread fruit), chakkai (raw jackfruit), chenai (elephant yam), mathan (pumpkin), vazhakkai (raw plantains), to mention some.
**Pachcha Mathan Erisseri.
- First prepare the spice-coconut paste. Grind together ½ cup coconut, cumin seeds and red chillies, adding just enough water, to a fine paste. Keep aside.
- Peel and cut the pumpkin into roughly ¾” by ¾” cubes. Put these in a pan, adding a cup of water, turmeric powder and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer till the pumpkin is cooked and very little water remains.
- Now add the spice-coconut paste, mix and simmer for a couple of minutes. Take off the heat.
- Heat the oil, add the mustard seeds and when they splutter add the lentil and brown. Then turn off the heat and add the curry leaves. Stir and pour over the cooked pumpkin.
- In another pan, toast (without oil) the ¼ cup grated coconut, stirring constantly, till it turns brown. Take care to see it does not burn. Add this to the Erisseri.'
- Stir lightly just before serving. Serve warm.
This Erisseri goes to AFAM (a Fruit A Month) being hosted this month at Madhuram’s Eggless Cooking.