Fall in Ontario is always breathtakingly beautiful. Cool crisp nights and warm sunny days encourage you to go explore forest trails, where you can walk for miles surrounded by trees whose leaves display the entire palette of colours, from brilliant reds and oranges to pale yellows and greens.
Driving around back country roads, stopping occasionally to buy fresh fruits and vegetables straight from farm stands and picnicking by a stream or waterfall is my favourite way to enjoy a beautiful fall day. Hiking in the many gorgeous conservation areas around Ontario, trampling on crunchy fallen leaves, admiring the tapestry of changing colours from a peak, while the dappled sunlight shines through the trees is another favourite!
Sun ripened, farm fresh produce is a real luxury this time of year and I try to make the most of it by practically turning vegetarian! Pumpkins are one of my favourite harvest vegetables and I love to cook them with spices, the way my mother used to when I was growing up in India. Just passing a field filled with ripe pumpkins evoked so much nostalgia in me that we had to stop and buy a couple to bring home!
Curried pumpkin sabzi is a delicious sweet, sour, hot and spicy creation that is best made with fresh pumpkin and enjoyed with warm naan, chapati or deep fried puris!
Curried Pumpkin Sabzi
2 lb fresh ripe pumpkin
2tbsp each: vegetable oil, butter
2 dried whole red chilies
1/4 tsp each: cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds
A tiny pinch of asafoetida (Hing), optional
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp each: cayenne pepper, turmeric, ground coriander, ground fennel, garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves (Kasoori methi)
Salt to taste
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder) or lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Cut pumpkin into quarters, remove and discard peel and seeds. Dice pumpkin into small 1 inch bite sized pieces. you should have about 5 loosely packed cups (750gm) diced pumpkin to cook with.
Warm oil and butter in deep non stick skillet over medium high heat. Add red chilies, cumin, fennel and fenugreek seeds. Let sizzle for 30 sec, then add asafoetida, if using.
Add onions and garlic, saute for about 5-7 min until softened. Add diced pumpkin, cayenne, turmeric, ground coriander, ground fennel, garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves and salt. Mix well, cover skillet, reduce heat to medium low and cook for about 20 min or until pumpkin is tender.
Add sugar, amchoor (mango powder) or lemon juice. Cook, covered for another 10 min, stirring occasionally. Uncover skillet, turn up the heat to medium and cook off some of the excess sauce for about 2 min. Fold in the fresh coriander.