As the season slowly begins the shift from cold winter to spring, the chill in the air continues with short bursts of bright sunshine. The body craves, warm bowls of flavour enriched dishes for comfort.
The reason there is a category called ‘comfort foods’ is because they are known to do just that. It brings out emotions which carry memories from childhood, or give a secure feeling of being taken care of. The human connection to food is more than just taste, it also causes endorphins to course through the system which helps in uplifting the mood.
Gourds are vegetables which survive through the cold months and are an ingredient which is much used during harvest season. Yellow pumpkins are rich in antioxidants and have a both sweet and savoury note when cooked. The flesh is creamy and makes for a delicious puree .It can be paired with garlic, chillies, ghee, salt, and fresh herbs of choice. It is also so tasty with toasted pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts and also puffed jowar for crunch.
Recipe - Roasted Pegetable Winter Soup
Yellow pumpkin - 2C cut into cubes
Carrots- 2 diced in the same shape
Potato- 2 cubed
Garlic - whole with skin ,cut into half (optional)
Mustard greens- ½ C - chopped finely
Cashew nuts- 25 gms - toasted
Ghee- 4-5 Tbsps or as required
Salt to taste
Black pepper powder to taste
Turmeric powder-1 tsp
Ginger- ½ inch piece
Pumpkin seeds- 2 Tbsps toasted
Water- 3 C
Take a large roasting pan for the oven and smear it with a little ghee.
Remove the skin from the garlic and scoop out the soft cooked pulp.
Add the pumpkin, carrots ,garlic and potatoes into the pan.
Add salt, black pepper, turmeric powder and mix it well using the fingers.
Add 3 Tbsps or more ghee and coat the vegetables with it. Cover the top of the baking tray before placing in the oven.
Place it inside a low to medium heat oven and let it cook on low heat for 45 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
Let it cool
Place all the vegetables in a blender jar, add 1 tablespoon of the toasted cashew nuts, ginger ,1/4 cup of water and blend to a smooth puree. If you prefer it chunky then can also do a coarse puree as well.
Take it out of the jar and add it to a deep kadai or pan. Add the remaining water and stir it over low heat for 5-6 minutes, until all the ingredients are heated well.
Add in the finely chopped mustard greens and stir well.
Serve in individual bowls.
Garnish the top with toasted cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds , popped jowar kernels , an extra sprinkling of black pepper and a small drizzle of ghee.
This soup can be made with a different combination of vegetables ,nuts and grains. Cook pearl millet and add it in for texture. Peas, carrot and cauliflower are also a delicious combination.
Toasted badam slivers or roasted peanuts will also add a nice crunch and nourish the body with good, healthy plant based fats. Add some green chillies if you like a spicy note, even a bit of cinnamon. Hearty soups can be made to individual palate preferences.
If the oven is not an option, these vegetables can also be cooked in a tandoor or slow roasted in big iron pans on the tava. But do it on a low flame as it should not burn. Give the vegetables plenty of space to roast in the pans otherwise it will tend to give out water if it is crowded together.