Mathanga Erissery: Pumpkin and Black-Eyes Peas Curry for Onam Sadya
Mathanga Erissery is a traditional Kerala dish made with Pumpkin and Black-Eyed Peas. This gluten-free, vegan dish is a part of the Sadya, or the festive meals served on Onam and Vishu.
In Kerala, this no onion, no garlic recipe uses Vanpayar or red cowpeas but I made it with the easily available black-eyed peas or chowli.
Wash and soak 1/4 cup of black-eyed peas in 1 cup of water for 4 to 6 hours. I normally soak the peas overnight.
Prepping the Pumpkin
Use about 350 gms of pumpkin. After you peel it and discard the fibrous centre, you should have about 200 to 225 gms of pumpkin.
Scrape off the soft inside of the pumpkin.
Peel the pumpkin and chop the pumpkin into 2" pieces.
Cooking the Peas or Vanpayar (I start with this as it is the most time consuming part)
Drain all the water from the soaked peas.
Wash the soaked peas well under running water and add 1/2 cup fresh water.
Pressure cook the black-eyed for 3 whistles (releases of pressure) or till the black-eyed peas are just soft enough to mash but still hold their shape. If you have not been able to soak the peas for 4 hrs or more, I would recommend you pressure cook for 4 whistles, and then lower the heat and let the peas cook for 10 minutes under pressure.
When the peas are cooked, discard all the water from the pressure cooked peas.
Making the Coconut Paste (I do this when the pumpkin is cooking)
Grind 1/4 cup grated coconut, 1 tsp cumin seeds and 2 green chillies with 2-3 tbsp water to a thick, coarse paste.
Making the Mathanga Erissery
To a heavy-bottomed vessel, add the pumpkin cubes, 2 large pinches of turmeric, 1/4 tsp salt and just enough water to cover the pumpkin pieces.
Over medium flame, cover and cook till the pumpkin pieces are cooked. When the pieces are cooked, they will become translucent and can be cut easily with a spoon.
When the pumpkin is cooked, lower the heat.
Use a spoon to gently break the pumpkin pieces. Do not mash the pumpkin.
Add the cooked black-eyed peas and the coconut paste.
Using a gentle hand, mix well.
If needed, add a little water and some salt. Do not add too much water; the Erissery should be like a thick stew.
Simmer for a couple of minutes.
Turn off the heat.
Adding the Tempering
In a tempering ladle, heat 1 tsp Coconut Oil.
Add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.
Add 2 red chillies and a few curry leaves.
Stir-fry for a few seconds till the chillies are well-roasted.
Add 1 tbsp grated coconut and stir-fry till the coconut dries out a bit, turns light brown and is fragrant.
Add the tempering to the Mathanga Erissery and mix well.
Let the Mathanga Erissery rest for 10 minutes before serving as a part of the Onam Sadya or Vishu Sadya. On regular days, just serve it with some rice. It tastes great with rotis as well.