Baakar Bhaji - Pumpkin Subji and an Award

This type of vegetable was/is  a grand affair in my birth-city, Nagpur, Maharashtra. It is made for all occasions, be it puja's, ganpati, Diwali or marriages. My aunt calls the Achari/ Maharaj/Chef who does all the cooking alone or at times with one assistant on her terrace for around 50-100 people in a matter of couple of hours. He comes equipped with his utensils, spoons and knives, all we need to do is give him the stuff to cook and some space. It is an pleasure and a s a kid I loved looking at him stir, chop and play with food in such huge quantities. The image of him stirring besan to make ladoos is fixed on my mind and takes me to a happy place, when he lovingly offered all kids smaller ladoos when he was done with the cooking. He was a strict chef, who was a brahmin and insisted that if he is cooking for the prasad/offering to god, then all things be clean and neat when he entered the place he was going to cook. After the ladoos this subji or vegetable preparation refuses to leave my mind and make space for new things. I dislike Pumpkin a s a kid, my grandma used to make bharit, a kind of dip/salsa with mashed boiled pumpkin and it was mandatory for us to finish that before leaving our seats and announcing we are done with the meal. It tasted decent, but the way of preparing was at fault, I mean, she chopped the pumpkin fine, then boiled it and then mashed it with fingers..and then added the spices, curds and made it a royal sloppy mess. The very thought of the process is enough for me to throw up. Another disgusting way of her preparation was making Shirkran, where she mashed ripe bananas with her fingers and added milk and sugar to it. Yuck.. and phew...god bless the person who invented spoons and knives.

This subji is divine and just melts in your mouth. Do not be fooled with the humble pumpkin. The poppy seeds and the dry coconut along with the spices make it a very rich gravy based preparation. People like to eat it with phulka's or rice, I like to hog it just as is.

You will need;
8-10 pieces of chopped pumpkin around 1to 2 inches with skin on
2 tbspns poopy seed
2 tbspns dry coconut powder
1 tbspn roasted peanut powder
little water to grind the paste--See notes.
5-6 curry leaves
1 tspn fenugreek seeds/methi seeds
1 tspn garam masala
1 tspn Red chili powder
1 tspn goda masala--Optional
1 tspn cumin-coriander powder
1 inch cube of jaggery
salt to taste
Cilantro to garnish

2 tbspn oil
1 tsp mustard/rai seeds
1 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
2 Green chili-Optional
pinch of hing
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi

Place a wok on medium heat and dry roast the poppy seeds for about 2-3 minutes till they change a shade darker, then remove them in a blender pot, in the same pan, dry roast the coconut till it changes color, once cooled, add it to the same blender pot with the roasted poppy seeds, and then add little water and add all the spice(garam masala+goda masala+cumin-coriander) powders, red chili powder, dry roasted peanut powder and little water to make paste. IN the same wok, take the oil, add the mustard seeds, jeera and let it sizzle a bit, add the curry leaves, green chilies and lastly the methi seeds and hing, add the paste and fry for 2-3 minutes, till the mixture is well incorporated, add the haldi and stir once. Then add the pumpkin cubes, salt and jaggery and stir till the paste coats the pumpkin pieces, add little water to make a curry. Do not add a whole lot of water as the pumpkin when cooks gives out a lot of water. We want a dry curry not a sloppy soupy mess. Cover with lid and cook till the pumpkin looks cooked. It should be firm and not break a whole lot, so we need to make bigger pieces and not smaller ones. The curry/subji is done. Garnish with cilantro and Enjoy with some steamed dal chawal or with hot phulka's or like me, as is.

 I am sending this to  Sweet Heat challenge hosted by Food and Football and Baby.

Moving on the award and a slice of MI-Whats in my mind!!!!

Sudha of wit, work and wisdom has shared an Inspirational award with me. I had to answer 8 questions about myself - interesting stuff:. Thanks Sudha for thinking about me, such gestures keep me blogging for more.

1. What makes you laugh, smile or giggle?

I am not rude, but I burst into laughter when I see someone falling on steps. Once my friend missed a step and fell on an airwalk. She had a pan in her bag which stared rolling down the steps as well and both landed at the same time with a big bang. There was quite a crowd there and everyone had  a good laugh before we all pitched in to help my poor friend.

Other things that make me giggle are my kids.Their haywire antics and smart use of words has me in splits often.

2. What are your dreams for your future?

I have no major dreams for myself, just want a satisfying life and stay happy. I have been blessed with enough of all things. I cannot get greedy and save my wishes for the time when I will need them for self or loved one.

3. If you are going to a cruise, where would it be and why?

I would love to cruise Hawaii. Have heard so many things about the mystic beaches and places to visit, that sooner than later I would be planning a cruise to Hawaii.

4. How would you spend your vacation and with whom?

Off course with Mr. Ash and my munchkins. I would love if my parents and my bro and his family also joins us. IT would truly be a dream vacation then.

5. If given a life, what life would you choose ? Your life now or your past?

Past is history and tomorrow is mystery, so present is a present(Gift).

6. Is there something that you wished before when you were young but you didn't get it?

Not when I was young, but recently I wished for something, which I did not get, It hurt a bit, but tomorrow is there to try again.

7. Have you been in a situation where you might have given up but you still choose to move on?

Yes of course. We all face such circumstances at some point in our life. The key is to move on and let go. Learn from past and try secure the future.

8. Is there someone in your life who has been your source of strength and inspiration?

There are not one but many wonderful girls in my life who have been my gyan guru.
My mom taught me to be kind, be giving, she made me book smart, confident and be of substance. Her ideology is we cannot change someone, but change the way we think.
My mom in law taught me to be street smart, do good only if someone deserved the goodness.
My aunt taught me to get tougher when the going gets tough. To never give up
My SIL's mom taught me to be happy in all situations. I admire her for she loves life and lives it to the fullest. She showed me that we can be really happy if we want to be.
My SIL taught me to take good with bad, sometimes give a second chance.

I am sharing this award with;
Smitha @
Khushi @ A Girls Diary
Ms. Chitchat @
Ansh @ Spiceroots
Amy @ Food Corner

This award is for all my readers also for being an inspiration for me. Please continue with your support and make me blog more often and share wonderful tit bits from my life to yours.

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