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Pumpkin squash is medium to large in size and is short, squat, and globular in shape, similar to the shape and color of the classic orange pumpkin. The skin is smooth, firm, and often lined with vertical indentations and is connected to a short, rough, light-brown stem. As the squash matures, the skin turns from green to a bright orange. The thick, dense, flesh is light orange when ripe and surrounds a large cavity containing stringy pulp and many large, flat, cream-colored seeds. When cooked, Pumpkin squash is tender and offers a mild taste with sweet and nutty flavors.
Pumpkin squash is available year-round, with peak season in the fall through winter.
Pumpkin squash, botanically classified as Cucurbita moschata, grows on a long vining plant and is a part of the Cucurbitaceae family along with gourds. Pumpkin squash is the most abundant squash grown in India and is an important everyday food source for vegetarian households. In India, each state has a different name for this commonly found vegetable. In Hindi, the squash is also known as ‘Kaddu,’ in Telugu as ‘Gummadikaya,’ and in Tamil, it is locally referred to as ‘Pushnicai.’ Pumpkin squash is used year-round in Indian cuisine in both savory and sweet preparations and is valued for its tender texture and sweet, nutty flavor.
Pumpkin squash is rich in vitamins A, E, and C, potassium, fiber, iron, and carotenoids like beta-carotene and lutein. The seeds of the Pumpkin squash are rich in zinc, iron, manganese, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Pumpkin squash is best suited for cooked applications such as baking, boiling, steaming, and roasting. One of the most popular preparations is the use of Pumpkin squash with dry spices and lentil sauce-based curries. Not limiting to curries, Pumpkin squash is also a common ingredient used in Indian sweets such as kheer, which is rice pudding and halwa which is a sweet dessert made of carrots, milk, sugar, and butter. Its versatile flavor allows it to be a part of spicy, sweet or savory preparations. Pumpkin squash is commonly served alongside rice and daal or with bread such as naan and puri. The seeds of the Pumpkin squash are also considered edible and consumed as a snack when toasted. Pumpkin squash pairs well with almost all kinds of Indian spices such as mango powder, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, fresh coriander leaves, fenugreek, asafoetida, and chili powder. Other complimentary ingredients include jaggery, yogurt, green chili pepper, mango, curry leaves, onion, saffron, ghee, milk, cashews, raisins, tomato puree, and mustard oil. Uncut Pumpkin squash is an excellent keeper and will store 3-6 months in a cool and dry place. Once cut, the squash should be used within one week.
The Pumpkin squash is an important source of food in India and is one of the most mass consumed vegetable crops. Popular for its use in curries, Pumpkin squash is used in everyday and special occasion meals, and in India, the Pumpkin squash is believed to help support healthy digestion and can aid in the elimination of intestinal worms. As per Ayurveda, Pumpkin squash is also used for its antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, and diuretic properties. Squash curry cooked without garlic and onions is a traditional dish served at Hindu weddings and religious ceremonies. In Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, a curry of sweet and sour pumpkin is popularly eaten at times of fasting as well as for celebrations and religious ceremonies. In southern India, Pumpkin squash is also used to make the traditional vegetable-based soup known as sambar.
Though originally native to South America, pumpkins and squashes were spread to Europe and eventually to India via explorers and trade routes. Today Pumpkin squash grows during Kharif or monsoon season as well as in the autumn in India. Outside of India, Pumpkin squash can be found in other regions of Asia at select markets.
Recipes that include Pumpkin Squash. One is easiest, three is harder.
|World of Vegetarian Recipes||Pumpkin Stew - Gummadikaya Pulusu|
|Veg Inspirations||Kadoo ki sabzi (Squash Curry)|
|A Cook at Heart||Spicy Sweet Squash (Meetha Kaddu)|