Simple Sustenance: Cumin-Lime Pumpkin Mash

Published by Thursday, November 17, 2011 Permalink 0
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by Renu Chhabra

Savoring Fall

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.–George Eliot

Fall is a perhaps the earthiest of seasons. Crisp air, fallen leaves, and trees changing hues make it a season to savor before winter sets in. For me, it’s a pleasant reminder of the holiday season ahead. But most of all, fall brings us an abundance of harvest.

The first thing that comes to my mind is pumpkin – the good old orange ball, greeting us at farm stands and grocery stores. Big, small, mini, round, and some not so round — they all whisper, “Take me home with you!”  How can you ignore these scrumptious beauties? Even though they are not the easiest of fruits to peel,  if you can win that battle, there are endless ways to enjoy them, sweet or savory.

For a those who have had American influences, the first thought is pumpkin pie. But I, on the other hand, love it in savory form. It’s just my taste buds; they crave salt more than sweet. So today, I am making pumpkin mash flavored with cumin and lime.

The inspiration for this comes from a childhood memory — a side dish that my mother used to prepare with very similar ingredients. It was more like orange-colored mashed potatoes than pumpkin. I have fond memories of wolfing down this dish with fried Indian bread. Steaming hot, puffed puris and pumpkin mash — a mouthful of flavor. Whenever I make this recipe, it’s a sweet reminder of a bygone era that is all brought back to life with this simple treat.

I used canned pumpkin for this recipe because it’s convenient and comes in handy for instant gratification. This is often not available outside the U.S., so it is perfectly feasible to do it with fresh baked pumpkin that has been puréed.

To the pumpkin purée, add just a few more simple ingredients and, voilà, it is ready to savor. Enjoy it as a side dish, spread or dip with your favorite crackers, bread or toasted pita. Whatever your heart desires. Make it your own.

Cumin: My Special Spice

Cumin is one of my favorite spices. Its smoky smell gives it an entirely unique characteristic, but it should be used sparingly because of its potency. So, a little goes a long way. Cumin is widely used in Mediterranean, Indian, Mexican, and many other cuisines. It is a perfect companion for soups, stews, curries and more, imparting wonderful depth and aroma.

This aromatic spice is available as seeds or ground. If using ground cumin, freshly ground seeds are the best. Dry roasting the seeds in a skillet or frying pan for a few minutes brings out their  flavor. Whenever I roast cumin, its earthy aroma fills the kitchen. Today, I am grinding it with a mortar and pestle, since my spice grinder has refused to cooperate. Truth be told, it’s more aromatic when done by hand.

I love using it in a lot of Indian and Mediterranean recipes. My favorite is to sprinkle freshly ground cumin on plain yogurt with a pinch of salt and a couple leaves of fresh mint. It’s a match made in heaven, and a wonderful palate cleanser too.





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3 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, diced small
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
15 oz can pureed pumpkin or freshly baked puréed pumpkin, well drained
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon paprika
Pinch of chili flakes (optional)
¼ teaspoon cumin, ground
Juice of one lime
1-2 tablespoon pumpkin seeds, roasted
3-4 fresh mint leaves, in chiffonade


  1. Heat oil in medium non-stick sauté pan. Cook onion on medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. They should be caramel-colored.
  2. Set aside half of the onions for garnish.
  3. Add ginger to the remaining onions in the pan. Stir for a few seconds and add the pumpkin purée, salt, paprika, chili flakes (if using), cumin and cook for 10-12 minutes until raw taste of the pumpkin is gone.
  4. Stir in lime juice.
  5. To serve, put the pumpkin mash in a bowl. Drizzle a tiny bit of oil over it.
  6. Add a pinch of cumin and paprika.
  7. Garnish with remaining half of the onions, pumpkin seeds and mint.

Goes wonderfully with a simple rustic loaf of homemade bread!

Enjoy and celebrate autumn’s bounty!

  • Make your own pumpkin pie spice for pies and lattes

    Goes wonderfully with a simple rustic loaf of homemade bread!

    Enjoy and celebrate autumn’s bounty!

    • Make your own pumpkin pie spice for pies and lattes

      Goes wonderfully with a simple rustic loaf of homemade bread!

      Enjoy and celebrate autumn’s bounty!


      Renu Chhabra lives in Southern California. Cooking simple and clean vegetarian food is her passion. Fresh produce, fragrant herbs, and aromatic spices are her kitchen companions. Recently, she has started cataloging her adventures in the kitchen in a new blog, Simple Sustenance for Us.

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