September 23, 2011

Kumror chakka (pumpkin with potatoes and chickpeas)

Chakka is a cube or dice. And the name of this simple potato pumpkin dish comes from the shape in which the vegetables are cut. Little cubes. How a vegetable is cut, is not only important for asthetic reason, but also for the way it is cooked. And all Bengali recipes have exact instruction of about the shapes of the cut vegetables. In this case, it is small cubes similar to the size of dices. This is the dish that started all the pumpkin tales last year. I had cooked it once for Blaž’s family. They loved it so much, that I had to cook a few more times in the next weeks. And the result, the big pumpkin growing in the garden this year. I love this dish. There is hint of sweetness, hint of spice, it is tender, and there is a bite.  And it uses the bhaja masala, a toasted-and-ground spice mixture that can make any dish my favorite.

  You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE

(Serves 4)

750g pumpkin
3 large potatoes
1/2cup red Bengal gram (soaked overnight)
1.5tbsp ginger paste
1 pinch freshly ground asafoetida/asafetida
1 green chili
1sp whole cumin seed
1 pinch turmeric powder

Spice mixture:
1sp whole cumin seed
1/2sp fennel seed
1/2sp mustard seed
1/4sp nigella seed
1/2 dried red chili


1.      Cut the pumpkin and potatoes in small cubes (the size of dice).
2.      Heat oil in pan. Add whole cumin seeds and let it crackle.
3.      Add the asafoetida. When it leaves fragrance, add the ginger paste. Cook for a minute on medium heat.
4.      Add the diced potatoes, salt and turmeric powder. Cook for a couple of minutes on medium heat with frequent stirring. Make sure that the potatoes are not getting brown.
5.      Add the pumpkin cubes, soaked Bengal grams, chili. Stir well. Cook covered on low-medium heat with occasional stirring. Do not stir too much, otherwise the vegetables will mash.
6.      In the meantime, toast the whole spices for the spice mixture and then grind well.
7.      When almost done, remove the cover, and increase the heat. Add a pinch of sugar and cook for a few more minutes.
8.      Garnish with the toasted-and-ground spice mixture (bhaja masala).

If not used to hotness from the chili, one can omit the green chili. The dried red chili however gives the flavor and aroma, and should not be omitted. Use only a smaller amount if necessary.


  1. lovely write up (made me bask in nostalgia for a while) and a wonderful recipe. I make a variation of this with potol/peanuts and today i made without either as i ran out of these ingredients. eh!!

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks neel. Yes, these classic simple recipes indeed can take one back to olden days :) Using potol sounds an interesting idea. Unfortunately I do not get the vegetable where I live..


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