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Kerala Dishes, South Indian Dishes, Vegetarian Dishes

Erissery – Pumpkin and Red Beans Curry – Once Again,………… It’s Onam, Ponnonam

It’s that time of the year again………

……….when a dreary, wet month of incessant rain ends in a bountiful harvest.

……….when the roads are full of busy shoppers weaving their way through the never – ending  traffic.

……….when vibrant hues of the flowers are matched only by the exuberance of the happy, excited children who pick them.

………..when the elegance of the cream and gold ‘mundu’ is seen across caste and creed.

………..when every ‘koottan’ on the ‘vazha ela’ is a masterpiece.

………..when houses are dressed up with  pookalams in all shapes and colors..

………..when the atmosphere vibrates with the delightful sounds of joy and laughter  ; youngsters play on the swing  and ladies dance to the steps of kaikottikali .

………..when the rhythmic refrains of the spectacular, colorful and legendary vallamkalli / snake boat race, are heard through the coast of Kerala.

Legend has it that during King Mahabali’s reign in Kerala, the prosperity and righteousness achieved, reached great heights of excellence. The Devas becoming insecure and envious, prayed to Lord Vishnu for deliverance. Lord Vishnu came as Vamana  and asked Mahabali for as much land as could be covered by his  three steps. The Lord assumed his true form and with the first two steps he took the earth and heaven. Mahabali bowed his head for the third step. He was sent to Patala but was given the boon of being able to come every year on Onam day to visit his subjects…....And every year, all Malayalis rejoice and welcome back their beloved King of Kings.


In olden days, ‘naalu kootu’ – Erissery, Kalan, Mezhukkuperatty and Olan or Ishtoo were the staples of  Sadya. Erissery is a healthy combination of protein rich cowpeas and beta-carotene  pumpkin. Here the roasted coconut imparts that unique attractive flavour which makes this dish stand out. Always a part of sadya  and a reminder of happy times and family togetherness, the sweetness of the pumpkin, the heat of the chilly, the creamy sauce, and the golden crisp scrapings of  coconut merge to form an apt companion to hot steaming red rice.


  • 1/4 cup Vanpayar / Cowpeas / Black eyed peas
  • 3 cups Mathanga / Pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp Chilli powder

To Grind

  • 1/2 cup Grated Fresh Coconut
  • 1 large pinch Jeera
  • 2 Green Chillies cut
  • 1 flake Garlic – optional

Cubed Pumpkin Pieces

To Temper

  • 1 tbsp Coconut oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 sprig Curry Leaves
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Grated Coconut
  • 1 Dry Red Chilli


  • Wash, peel and cut  pumpkin into 1″ cubes
  • Clean, soak  cowpeas overnight or for 6 hours, drain.
  • Grind together coconut, jeera, green chilly and garlic well.


  • Pressure cook cowpeas with 1.5 cups of water.
  • Let the pressure cooker cool. Add  pumpkin cubes to the cooked peas in cooker and add salt, chilli and turmeric powder to it. Add water, if needed and cook for a whistle only.
  • Again allow the pressure cooker to cool down. To the cooked vegetable and cowpeas, add ground masala. Mix well. Let it simmer on low flame for few minutes. Take off heat.
  • Heat oil in  kadai, and when mustard seeds splutter, throw in broken red chilli and curry leaves, followed by grated coconut. Fry in low heat till golden brown and crisp.
  • Add seasoning to curry and mix. Serve hot with steaming red rice.

  • Quick Sadya Dish –  Injithairu is a must-have for any sadya. It is as the name implies, minced ginger in curd. Ginger has many good properties the chief among which is that it aids digestion. The legend of Vararuchi describes how his future wife solves his puzzle to provide eighteen curries by serving injithairu which shows the importance in which it is held.
  • Add  2 tsp finely cut  ginger, 4 chopped green chillies, a few cut curry leaves and required amount of salt to a cup of whisked curd in a bowl. Toss well and transfer to a serving bowl. Let it sit for 10 minutes and it is ready to be served. You will love it!
  • Quick Tip – Always fry ground masala in low heat to retain its color and taste.

About Paddy

When I married and came to Bangalore, it was a real ‘Pensioners’ Paradise.’ The climate was as today’s generation would say – ‘Awesome’. It was cool and pleasant throughout the year. My parents cautioned me to keep warm and have given me the loveliest Kashmir shawls, which I treasure to this day. Since I could not distinguish between rice and dal, cooking was an uphill task. I had a cook from Kerala, but the cold weather did not suit her and in a month’s time, she went back. Looking back, I have come a long way now… Cooking for me has metamorphosed from a daily routine of making edible and nutritious food for my family to an exciting journey of creativity by experimenting with different flavors and ingredients. To me, food is not only for nourishment and sustenance. Its taste and flavors take us back to our good times too. Food is nostalgia and comfort. It brings home our culture. Food is a treat and nourishment for the soul too. I dedicate this blog to my parents, who instilled in me a strong sense of ethics and discipline, and whose affection, love and support gives me strength in this journey of life. I feel the need of today’s generation, who come away from their homes and crave for home cooked food. To you too, I dedicate this blog, where I will share the recipes that I have learnt and grown to love over the years.


2 thoughts on “Erissery – Pumpkin and Red Beans Curry – Once Again,………… It’s Onam, Ponnonam

  1. belated onashamsakal..!! was waiting for ur onam updates:)

    Posted by scribbleofhappygoluckygal | September 4, 2012, 4:07 PM
  2. Thank you. Onashamsakal to you too.

    Posted by Paddy | September 5, 2012, 7:06 AM

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