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November 2008

Pumpkin Pie Post Halloween-Almond and Semolina Pumpkin Pie.

Almond Pumpkin Pie

Yes! Halloween is celebrated here too, to the astonishment of relatives in the US. Taking part in the celebrations are  young people usually between the ages of 15 and 24 . They don't go around begging for candy. They dress up to kill and go clubbing. Well, Pune is Party City for the young and restless.

So we do not have the problem of what to do with pumpkin once Halloween is over. Nor is pumpkin particularly popular at this time of year as it is in the US, but if you have some in stock you could make Bhopla Bhaji . Or you could try one of my other favourite recipes :


For the pie base

1 cup sifted plain flour

1/3 cup butter

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

6 tbsp cold water.

For the filling

3/4 kg pumpkin

1 tbsp butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups milk

2 tbsp semolina /  suji

2 tbsp ground almonds

2 eggs separated.

Pinch of nutmeg

1/4 tsp vanilla essence or powder.

Method: For the base:

Butter a 12 " pie dish and keep ready. Heat the oven to about 375 degrees. Add the salt and sugar to the flour. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips till it resembles bread crumbs. Now add the ice cold water and mix together till the flour forms a rough ball of dough. Do not handle . Cover and keep in the freezer for 10 minutes. Take out and roll out a circle of dough approximately 12 " in diameter and 3 mm in thickness. Lift with the help of your rolling pin and place in the pie dish. Adjust the circle to fit the pie dish and cut off any extra bits. Cover with dried peas or kidney beans to weigh down the dough and cook blind in the hot oven for 10 minutes.Remove the peas or beans.

Method: For the filling

Cut the pumpkin into cubes. Heat a tablespoon of butter and saute in a non stick pan till the pumpkin gets a bit brown. Now add one cup of the milk and the sugar and cook till soft. Mash the pumpkin till smooth with a potato masher or puree in a blender. Return to the pan. Add the rest of the milk and heat well. Now add the semolina and bring back to the boil and cook till the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the almond powder.Take off the fire and let it cool. When cool add the nutmeg and vanilla then mix in the lightly beaten egg yolks . Beat the white of the eggs till fluffy and fold into the mixture.

Pour into the pie base and cook in a 325 degree oven till set and golden brown on top. Approx. 40 minutes.

The base is not too buttery, in fact it is quite crisp, and the pie holds together well because the semolina absorbs any extra liquid. To decorate it toast almond slivers and scatter on top.

Green Pea Soup- Erwtensoep

Erwtensoep Soups are redolent of winter. When they are thick, nourishing and substantial, they need the mist of frost outdoors and family indoors to make them really satisfying.
My all time favourite winter soup is Erwtensoep. Eaten, for the first time, on a cold autumn evening in Amsterdam, it hugged my bones and made walking home in the gathering gloom like a stroll swathed in sunshine.
 Erwtensoep is made from green peas and, like the best of almost every countrys cuisine, is basically peasant fare. The soup usually calls for pigs trotters, leeks , green peas , celery and hours and hours of slow cooking.
 Besides the fact that these are a tall order where I live, I cant see myself cooking for 10 hours and worrying if the gas has gone off the whole day. There is an easier way to achieve something like the pleasure of this green, green soup much quicker. Try this.


200 gms dried green peas
 500 ml water
 2 rashers of bacon
4 spring onions/ scallions  chopped fine
 4 slices of salami , chopped
Sea salt or 1 tsp celery salt

Soak the peas overnight. In the morning wash them well and cook in a pressure ,along with the water, for 30 minutes . After the first whistle, reduce the fire and cook on low to medium heat.
 Meanwhile take the rind of the bacon, cut into bits and sauté in a nonstick frying pan till the fat has been rendered and the pieces are slightly browned. Fry the onions in the same fat along with the bacon for a few minutes. Open the cooker, mash the peas with a slotted spoon, add a cup of water, the bacon, salami and celery salt / sea salt and cook for another 10 minutes.

 P.S Can you believe it? !! India is the largest producer and exporter of celery seeds in the WORLD and we cant get a stick of decent celery nor can we get the oil, seeds or salt readily in the shops. I have been going around asking for Ajmud NOT Ajwain luck.