Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mathanga Vanpayar / Pumpkin and Red Cow Peas Erissery

Erissery or Erussery is a dish served at all Kerala feasts or sadhya. It is a vegetable and dry peas combination cooked in a double coconut gravy. Like in a Do Pyaza gravy where onions are added in two forms, here also grated coconut is added in two forms! Erissery can be made with different combinations of vegetables and dry peas and some of the variations are pumpkin and red cow peas (mathanga - vanpayar), raw plantain - yam (kaaya - chenna) and jackfruit (chakka). Personally, I love the mathanga and vanpayar combination the most. The mingled flavors of a ripe sweet mathanga with the earthiness of vanpayar in a double coconut gravy, I think is a great combination. And like kids love to say, - my mother makes the best mathanga erussery that nobody in this world can beat!
And I have this recipe and some tips from her to make a tasty erissery :
1. Use only a ripe orange mathanga / pumpkin, nothing can beat its flavor and sweetness.  
2. Keep the quantity of the vanpayar / cow peas less than the manthanga / pumpkin.
3. Avoid stirring too much, the pumpkin will crumble.
4. And don't hold back on the coconut!
Erissery was one of the items I made for the Onam sadhya and along with the potato ishtew, they were the first ones to get over!
Mathanga / Pumpkin - 500 gms
Vanpayar / Red Cow peas - 1 cup
Coconut - 1
Cumin seeds - 1tsp
Curry leaves - 4 to 5 sprigs
Green chilli - 2
Dry red chilli - 5 to 6
Turmeric pwd - 1tsp
Mustard seeds - 1tsp
Salt as per taste
Oil - 2tsp
Grate the coconut and divide it into 3 portions. Take two portions of the grated coconut, add into a blender. Add the cumin seeds, 2 green chillies, 2 dry red chillies and 4 to 5 curry leaves and grind to a thick paste. Add only a few spoons of water, just enough to grind. Keep aside.
Heat a pan and dry roast the remaining one portion of the grated coconut on low heat. When cool, put into a blender and give it one whisk to roughly crush it. Keep aside.
Wash the vanpayar / red cow peas and drain. Add 1.5 cups water and boil it in a pressure cooker. Peel and dice the pumpkin and put it into a saucepan along with a little water, just enough to keep it from catching to the bottom. Add the turmeric powder and salt as per taste, cover the vessel and cook on low heat. Keep a watch on the pumpkin, it cooks quickly since it is ripe. When the pumpkin is half cooked, add 1 sprig of curry leaves and the coconut and chilli paste. Cover and cook on low heat. Check if done after about 5 minutes and add the roasted and crushed coconut to the cooked pumpkin and place a sprig or two on the top, cover and take off the heat.
Tear the dry red chilli into pieces and keep a few curry leaves ready. In a separate pan heat the oil, then add the mustard seeds and add the red chilli pieces and curry leaves, quickly stir with a spoon and take it off the heat. Pour the mix on to the erissery and cover. When ready to serve, gently mix the varthu iddal / tadka into the erissery.
Erusseri served on vazhayila for the Onam sadhya

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