pumpkins and pomegranate

March 28, 2012 § 7 Comments

I love it how the shadows get longer at this time of year, creeping into far off corners, exploring unknown territories. A certain stillness. If I listened hard enough I feel like I could hear the pumpkins growing ever so slowly in the vegie patch and a pomegranate breaking open in the dappled sunlight that falls behind the house.

Rob’s chickpea pumpkin and date salad

October 14, 2011 § 8 Comments

As summer is on its way and the days get warmer, lighter fresh meals are entering the kitchen. Yet those vegies we typically associate with summer are not quite here. I love the winter flavours with a summer feel that this salad, served for dinner tonight by my friend Rob, embodies. Memories of winter somehow all the more pleasurable because they can be enjoyed from the warmth of spring.

Rob is not your typical looking cook, red-haired, you will often find him saw on grain woodworking some design at the back of the house in a cloud of fine dust that settles in his beard and hair, or gazing into space with one of his many instruments saddled in his lap. But Rob keeps surprising me with his kitchen skills and kindly agreed when I asked him to post his recipe… admitting he got it from somewhere else but long enough ago to have forgotten where and changed along the way. You can find his music here where he plays with the lovely Jess Ribeiro and the Bone Collectors. And here is his salad, Chickpea, Pumpkin and Date.

How to Make Chickpea Pumpkin and Date Salad

Roughly Chop about 1/2 a pumpkin and sprinkle it with 1 tsp ground cumin and 1 tsp ground coriander, drizzle with olive oil and bake in an oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 1/2 to 3/4 of an hour.

In the meantime take 2 cups dried chickpeas and cook in boiling water until soft (if your feeling lazy, or you want to, you can just use 2 cans chickpeas)

Combine in a large bowl with the pumpkin, a cup of roughly chopped dried dates, a handful of chives finely chopped, 2 bunches coriander roughly chopped, juice and rind of one lemon and a good dashing of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and voilà!

Thyme for Pumpkin

January 9, 2011 § 3 Comments


The markets in Makeni, shoulder to shoulder with hot crawling crowds carrying their buys and sales and indeed, their handbags, on their heads for convenient hands free shopping. The way is particularly slow, pedestrians congested in the narrow spaces between the stalls, every productive piece of bare earth used for displaying neatly balanced towers of onions and stacks of maggi cubes, portions of salt, plates of roasted peanuts, handfuls of chillies and piles of dried fish. However this is not really a market, it’s meant to be a road lined with stalls, but they inevitably spread to encompass the whole space. When a car wants to pass through, it noses itself into the crowds as women hurriedly gather their trade and punters squeeze against the sides of the street.

It is here one sunny day that I spy amongst the dry and smelly fish, a big beautiful deep green pumpkin. ‘Yes mam, yes mam’ says the soft and rounded lady sitting behind her display holding the pumpkin out to me on a seemingly particularly stretched out arm. Her body reaches heavily out over the fish towards me. She is guessing I will be stupid and white enough to pay her almost a dollar for this one so she won’t take any chances with me missing the cue. And she is right of course, I can’t resist. Soon it is heavy in my bag on my shoulder as I balance my new weight on the back of the Okada home, weaving through the cars and pedestrians. I am happy with my buys today, also tucked away in my bag, tiny bundles of individually wrapped dried thyme that I find with excitement amongst the maggi cubes and salt in the markets but just never recognised before.

Beautiful things. My pumpkin at home amongst the basil seedlings

What then? Well not traditional but predictable, pumpkin soup with spices brought gallantly all the way from Morocco, pumpkin fritters that leave me wanting to cry and finally, Pumpkin in a Skillet with Thyme, Lime and Chilli.

 

Recipe for Pumpkin in a Skillet with Thyme Lime and Chilli

This recipe makes for a lovely snack and is so simple. But lets not mistake lack of complexity for lack of tasty because it is the latter indeed. I can be grateful for that here where you are far from overwhelmed by an abundance of variety and reminded of how effective just a few ingredients can be.

You will need

About a quarter to half a pumpkin sliced roughly 5mm thick
Oil for frying
Thyme to taste
Chilli powder to taste
1 or 2 limes
1-2 fresh chillies, seeds removed and finely sliced

In a skillet or heavy based fry pan gently fry pumpkin over a medium heat until golden brown and crisp on the outside but soft in the middle.

Sprinkle immediately with thyme, salt and chilli powder and serve with a squeeze of lime and sprinkle of fresh chilli.

Eat straight away; it is best hot and still crisp.

Served on our broken chopping board, the prettiest thing I could find in the house

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