I cannot have enough of this golden beauty - the butternut squash. The other day, I bought a big one from the grocery store. [dt_quote type="pullquote" layout="left" font_size="big" animation="none" size="2"]A recipe is a story that ends with a good meal. - Pat Conroy[/dt_quote]Half of the butternut squash went into making some pan roasted squash with baby spinach. The other half went into a traditional dish called Erissery that I have grown to love more and more, every time I make it.
Let's learn to make some erissery today.
You need some soaked cowpeas (chawli) to make this.
Let's start cooking. Wash and drain the soaked chawli and pressure cook. I cannot survive with out my pressure cooker. If you have used it, you will know how convenient and energy saving the pressure cooker is. I use it to make rice, cook pulses and legumes and even make this dessert.
While cowpeas is cooking, let us chop some butternut squash pieces.
Do you see the beautiful, colorful spices I have shown? They are there for a reason. They add the spice, color and fragrance to erissery, making it a delicious accompaniment to your rice.
Now, it is time to grind the coconut.
Once the cowpeas is cooked, add the butternut squash to it. Add the ground coconut paste and then it is time for tadka or tempering or seasoning (or varavu as it is called in Malayalam).
Call it by whatever name, this last step is absolutely essential. That is what gives the final touch to complete the dish.
Tadka or tempering is the last step in the preparation. Spices are added to the hot oil and then this seasoned oil is poured into the dish enhancing the flavors. There are different ways to temper dishes. In my version of eriserry (which I learned from my mother-in-law), coconut is roasted in a little oil. The aroma of lightly roasted coconut and curry leaves in coconut oil is absolutely divine. Pour the tempered oil into the curry and transfer to a serving dish. Serve over the rice or by the side - you cannot go wrong with this.
Wondering what else you can serve with erissery? Don't worry.... you have about 20 dishes to pick from. Just read about that in my sadya post. If you are not planning to make all those dishes, you can still enjoy a simple traditional Kerala style complete meal as follows:
- Rice (steamed boiled-rice is the best)
- Apple Pickle or any other Indian pickle
- Thoran (a simple Kerala style stir fry)
- Pappadam (deep fried thin lentil fritters)
If licking fingers were allowed, I would have done it every time I ate this meal.
A few notes about erissery
My mother-in-law makes two different versions of erissery (which she calls elissery) - one with toor dal (or pigeon peas dal) and one with chawli or vanpayar (this is the recipe I have given here). Both of them taste different, although majority of the ingredients are the same. Typically, the toor dal version is the gravy one and is served on the rice whereas the version that uses chawli is a thicker version and is served on the side of the rice.
My favorite is the one that uses chawli and most of the times I make it like gravy and serve on the rice. This is the only change (and of course changing the way she pronounces it) I make in my mother-in-law's version of the recipe. Otherwise, I follow it to the dot 🙂
- 1.5 lb Butternut Squash/Pumpkin
- ¾ cup Cowpeas/vanpayar; soaked overnight
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne/Indian red Chilli powder (adjust to taste)
- ¾ teaspoon Ground Turmeric/Haldi
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup coconut (fresh or frozen thawed)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds/Jeera
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 10-12 curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1-2 whole red chillies (optional)
- 2-3 tablespoon coconut (fresh or frozen thawed)
- Wash and Soak cowpeas or chawli overnight.
- Chop Butternut squash into small pieces.
- Pressure cook soaked cowpeas or chawli. After the steam is fully released , open the pressure cooker.
- Once the cowpeas is cooked, add the chopped butternut squash pieces to it along with paprika, cayenne, turmeric and salt and cook it uncovered.
- Meanwhile, grind the coconut with cumin seeds with little water to a paste.
- Add the ground mix into the cooked squash-cowpeas mix. Bring to a boil and adjust the seasonings as well as consistency.
Prepare the seasoning/Tempering
- Heat coconut oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds and when they splutter, add the whole red chillies, curry leaves and coconut. Fry till the coconut turns brown and the whole seasoning mix turns aromatic. Pour the seasoned oil along with the spices and coconut to the boiled curry.
- Serve hot.
1. Pressure Cooking Cowpeas:
Soak the cowpeas overnight. Though this step is optional, I almost always soak it.
Wash and drain the soaked cowpeas. I add the cowpeas along with 2.5 cups of water to my 5 liter pressure cooker. Cover with the lid and cook on high heat till steam starts to escape from the cooker. At this point, I place the pressure cooker weight on the nozzle and let it cook till the whistle sounds. This takes about 12-15 minutes (sometimes less) and then I lower the heat to medium, cook for another 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and the allow the steam to escape completely before opening.
2. Time saving tip: You can pressure cook cowpeas ahead of time and store in airtight container in the refrigerator for a day or two.