I love pumpkin and as it’s a typical summer vegetable in India, we eat all kind of pumpkin dishes already since months. From an Ayurvedic point of view pumpkin belongs to the vegetables which cool the body and are an ideal food for summer. To cool down further in the Indian heat we often keep the stove off and I prepare the pumpkin raw as a salad.
To eat pumpkin raw as a salad is not so well known, but actually most pumpkins can be eaten raw and they have a wonderful mild, nutty flavour and are pleasantly crunchy. Some decorative pumpkins can’t be eaten raw, but you can use any common pumpkin or squash which is meant for eating. Raw pumpkin salad tastes best with a sweetish, creamy dressing and for my salad I borrowed the flavours from an Indian chaat. These are fantastic, north Indian snacks, which can come in wide variety of ingredients. They all are a wild combination of flavours and textures and taste salty, sweet, sour, crunchy and creamy, all at the same time.
Most chaats use some deep-fried item as the base, but the flavours also tastes great with crunchy pumpkin. The salad is done really fast and it’s the perfect healthy snack, which fills you up without being heavy.
Only the tamarind date chutney takes a little time. But once ready it’ll last for months in the fridge and also makes for a fantastic dip, ketchup replacement and can be used in many more recipes. Tamarind is a very versatile ingredient and injects a deep sour-savoury flavour in many dishes (Ottolenghi called it once one of his secret weapons). It’s really, really worth buying! I’ll be posting some more tamarind recipes in future to show you what it can do.
You’ll get tamarind paste in any Asian market or online and it’ll also last for ages and can be used for many more Indian/Asian/Freestyle dishes.
Raw Pumpkin Salad with Tamarind Date Chutney
Enough as a snack for 2 people. The recipe for the tamarind chutney will yield one big jar and last for up to 3 months in the fridge.
Tamarind Date Chutney
- 200 gram dates without stones, cut in small pieces
- 5 tablespoons tamarind paste or 100 gram dried tamarind
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 TL teaspoon chili powder (optional)
- 500 ml water
- 1/4 of a medium sized pumpkin (hokkaido, muscat, etc)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- one handfull fresh coriander leaves
- one handfull boiled chickpeas
- one handfull roasted peanuts (salted or unsalted)
- 1 green chili, finely chopped (optional)
- 250 gram yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons tamarind chutney
If you use the dried tamarind you first have to make your own tamarind paste. Pour 1 big cup of boiling hot water of the dried tamarind and let it soak for 30 min. You can stir it from time to time to loosen it up a bit. After 30 min add the tamarind and water to a sieve and by pressing on it try to extract as much pulp as possible.
Quickly dry roast the cumin seeds in pot over medium heat till they change colour and smell aromatic. Then add 500 ml water and chopped dates. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. The dates should dissolve in the water, depending on how dry your dates were when you started, it’ll might take a little bit longer. Pour the dates and water into a blender (or use a handheld blender) and puree it, strain through a sieve. Add the puree back to the pot.
Now add the salt, chili powder and tamarind paste (or the extracted pulp), bring to a boil and simmer till it has a thick pouring consistency (a bit thinner than ketchup). Fill in a sterilized glass jar.
As tamarind pastes vary in sourness you should taste the chutney. If it feels too sour add some brown sugar to it, till you feel it tastes balanced.
Peel and deseed the pumpkin, then grate it as rough as possible. I use a mandoline for it, but if a box grate is all you have you can use that too (it won’t be as crunchy though). Mix the grated pumkin with the lemon juice and green chili (if using), distribute on 2 plates and scatter the chickpeas, peanuts and coriander leaves over it.
Stir the salt into the yogurt, if the yogurt is very thick you can thin it out with a teaspoon full of water. Spoon the yogurt over the pumkin salad and top each plate with a generous tablespoon of tamrind chutney.
You can also add other ingredients to the salad. A handful of pomegranate seeds or some cubed potatoes or cucumber taste nice. If you are brave enough you can also crush some potato chips and add them on top.