This dish is a study in diversity. It is built around roast pumpkin, which I simply love and which kindles the taste memory of a vegetarian kebab, like a tandoori aloo or gobi. There is a play of Middle Eastern flavours in it, with Egyptian Dukkah spice, lemon hummus and hazelnuts. The Bhavnagri chilli and its stuffing, which is quite Mexican, pivot the dish into another direction. And the pickled apricots bring in an extra dimension of flavour.

  • Plus 4 hours for marinating pumpkin.

Ingredients

For Pumpkin

  • 400 gm pumpkin, cut into four wedges
  • 50 gm Dukkah spice
  • 10 gm parsley, chopped
  • 5 gm thyme, chopped
  • 5 gm garlic
  • 40 ml olive oil
  • 10 ml white balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

For Dukkah Spice

  • 50 gm hazelnuts, roasted
  • 15 gm white sesame seed
  • 15 gm whole black peppercorns
  • 15 gm coriander seeds, roasted
  • 15 gm whole cumin, roasted
  • 5 gm fennel seeds, roasted
  • 5 gm chilli flakes

For Ricotta Bhavnagri Chilli

  • 4 Bhavnagri chillis
  • 100 gm ricotta
  • 5 gm garlic, chopped & fried
  • 5 gm parsley, chopped
  • 5 gm basil, shredded
  • Salt and pepper

For Lemon White Bean Puree

  • 100 gm white beans, soaked overnight and cooked till soft
  • 10 gm honey
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Salt to taste

For Chilli Peanuts

  • 50 gm peanuts, without skin
  • 50 gm caster sugar
  • 5 gm chilli powder
  • Salt to taste

For Pickled Apricot 

  • 50 gm dry apricots
  • 25 gm sugar
  • 5 gm salt
  • 5 gm coriander seeds
  • 150 ml water
  • 50 ml white wine vinegar
  • 6-8 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 small cinnamon stick

Preparation

For Dukkah Spice Mix

  1. Roast all the spices separately, and let them cool. 
  2. Once cool, grind them into a fine powder. 
  3. Make sure the hazelnuts do not release any oil into the spice powder.

For Pumpkin

  1. Cut the pumpkin into four crescent-shaped wedges. 
  2. In a bowl, mix all the other ingredients with a whisk to form a marinade or dressing. 
  3. With this dressing, rub and coat the pumpkin wedges. 
  4. Let them marinate, covered, for four hours in a refrigerator. 
  5. To cook the pumpkin, either grill it over charcoal or roast it in the oven at 180°C/350°F till tender and charred.

For Ricotta Bhavnagri Chilli

  1. Wash and pat dry the chillis with a paper towel. 
  2. Slit them lengthwise, making sure you don’t split them in two. Remove and discard the seeds.
  3. Separately, in a bowl, mix the ricotta with garlic, herbs and seasoning
  4. Stuff the chillis with this ricotta mixture. 
  5. Either grill them over charcoal or roast them in the oven at 180°C/350°F till tender and charred.

For Lemon Bean Puree

  1. Purée the cooked beans in a mixer-grinder with a little water to form a smooth paste. 
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients one by one and continue to emulsify to a smooth purée.

For Chilli Peanuts

  1. In a nonstick pan, cook the peanuts and sugar on low heat, mixing continuously till the sugar caramelises and coats the peanuts. 
  2. Add in the salt and chilli powder, give it all a quick mix, and remove the chilli peanuts onto a plate to let cool.

For Pickled Apricot

  1. Cut the apricots into thin strips and put them in a sterilised glass jar.
  2. Separately, in a saucepan, add all the remaining ingredients to make the pickling liquid and bring them to boil. 
  3. Pour the hot liquid over the apricots and seal the jar.

To Serve

  1. On a plate, spread a tablespoon of warm lemon bean purée. 
  2. On the purée place the charred pumpkin and charred Bhavnagri chilli. 
  3. Garnish with chilli peanuts and pickled apricots.
Rahul Akerkar

Rahul Akerkar

Rahul Akerkar is the chef-founder of Qualia, Mumbai, and he is Scroll Food’s Chef of the Month for June. He started his culinary journey 35 years ago in the US, returning to India in 1989. Since then, he has been busy changing the way we eat. Known for setting industry trends with his creative, ingredient-driven cuisine, and warm attentive hospitality, Rahul’s award-winning restaurants secured his position as one of India’s first successful, chef-restaurateurs. In his career, he has won many accolades – he was featured in Asiaweek’s Survey of “Kitchen Gods” in 2001 and was 28 on San Pellegrino’s List of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2013. More recently, he won Chef of The Year at the Times Food Awards 2016, Mumbai. He has been guest chef in several kitchens around the world, authored numerous articles, and frequently consults to the food and hospitality industry.


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Charred Pumpkin, Ricotta Bhavnagri Chilli by Chef Rahul Akerkar of Indigo, Qualia

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