Whole spices

Spiced Butternut Squash Mash

As the days begin to get a lot colder and darker in the UK, I definitely find myself daydreaming about white beaches, lush rice fields & warmer climes. Looking through all our travel photos from India doesn't exactly help with the winter blues, but it is an amazing way to find meal inspiration...

One of the dishes we remember fondly from our travels was this spicy pumpkin or squash mash, which was often served as part of a lunchtime thali with other curries & pickles. As squash is in season here at the moment, we decided to make our own version of this delicious, satisfying dish. The whole spices in this meal bring a lot of flavour to the mash, as well having a lot of healing properties that help warm the body up during these colder months!

Butternut Squash Mash with Spices
Butternut Squash mash with spices.

Ingredients
1 large butternut squash (approx 1 kg)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 dried red chili (optional)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
large handful of coriander, chopped finely

Method
-First, peel and cut the squash into chunks and remove the seeds. Then roast in a hot oven for 40-60 minutes, until well cooked and beginning to colour. 
-Once roasted, remove from the over and roughly mash the squash on the tray using the back of a fork. 
-In a pan, heat the coconut oil, then add all of the spices and  the chili and stir fry for 30-60 seconds, until the mustard seeds begin to crackle. This is important for bringing the flavour out of the spices and into the oil!
-As soon as they begin to crackle, add the onions and fry on a medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until they start to turn golden. 
-Once the onions are golden, add the mashed squash to the pan. Mix well and fry for 1-2 more minutes, then turn of the heat.
-Mix in the fresh coriander and lemon juice. Enjoy! 

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What delicious meals have you had when travelling?

Almond & Pumpkin Seed Dukkah

If you hadn't already realised by now, we love a good spice blend. But when a spice blend also contains nuts/seeds and can be eaten as a snack? That's when our taste buds really get excited. Welcome to Dukkah .... probably one of the tastiest mixes you can have in your kitchen cupboards. And it's really nutritious too...so it's an all round winner!

Originating from Egypt, this spice/nut mix has become really popular around the world as a delicious topping, seasoning and just a general kitchen superstar. The word 'dukka' (or duqqa) means 'to pound', and you quite literally just pound your ingredients together to form a dry, crunchy mixture. 

Almond & Pumpkin Seed Dukkah
Almond & Pumpkin Seed Dukkah

Traditionally, dukkah was served as a snack with fresh bread and olive oil. Simple but delicious! But it's an incredibly versatile mix - sprinkle it on top of vegetables to form a crispy coating, use it on top of soups, salads, stews, pasta or whatever meal needs some extra flavour. The possibilities are pretty endless.  I've even eaten it with a spoon as a pre-dinner snack! 

In many classic Dukkah recipes, they use hazelnuts & sesame seeds as the base of the mix. We've used almonds in our version as we always have them in the cupboard, but it would be equally delicious with brasil nuts, walnuts or hazelnuts. We've also used pumpkin seeds as they're our favourite and are an amazing source of zinc and plant protein. 

Almond & Pumpkin Seed Dukkah

Ingredients (Makes 1 medium jar)
1/2 cup of Almonds
1/2 cup of Pumpkin Seeds
2 & 1/2 tablespoons of cumin seeds
2 & 1/2 tablespoons of coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon of black pepper corns
1/2 teaspoon of good quality salt

Method
We dry roast our seeds and nuts separately in a heavy bottom pan so they cook evenly.
1. First toast the almonds, then pumpkin seeds, stirring well until they are nicely browned. Set aside.
2. Then toast the coriander, cumin and black pepper until they are fragrant.
3. Let everything cool, then mix with the salt and grind up in either a pestle and mortar or with a spice/coffee grinder. Its nice to leave some of the seeds and nuts chunky so you get some good texture (see below).
4.Store in an air-tight jar. Keeps well for 2-3 months. 

Almond & Pumpkin Seed Dukkah
Almond & Pumpkin Seed Dukkah
Almond & Pumpkin Seed Dukkah
Almond & Pumpkin Seed Dukkah

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Fragrant Coconut Curry

It's been a long time since our last post, but we're back! Back to this transformed yet familiar space, with a new intention to create, learn and share. The blog's new name 'Putumayo Kitchen' was inspired from our magical time in Colombia... a year of adventure and change. Putumayo is a Quechua word and translates to 'the opening of a river', with 'putu' meaning 'spring forth'. 

Another thing that inspired us about Colombia was the availability of coconuts! It was amazing being able to get cheap fresh coconut from the market and we used it all the time to make curries, milk, stir fries and smoothies. This is a curry recipe we've been working on back at home which works great with either fresh or dessicated coconut.  The flavours are quite subtle and its deliciously sweet and aromatic. Aside from the curry paste it's easy to adapt with whatever ingredients you have, and the level of spiciness is totally up to you! 

Fragrant Coconut Curry

Ingredients (Serves 4 as a main meal with rice)

For the Curry Paste:
1 cup of unsweetened dessicated coconut
1 tbsp of coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped  
1 inch of fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped  
3 heaped tsps of ground almonds
3 tsps of coriander seeds
1 tsp of brown mustard seeds
2 small cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp of fennel
12 black peppercorns
6 cardamom pods
3 cloves
1 large pinch of sea salt

Other Ingredients:
1/2 a tin of coconut milk
Most vegetables would work in this curry. Feel free to use whatever you like/have! 
We used- 
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 courgette, cut into strips
1 large carrot, cut into strips
1 green chilli (optional)
salt, to taste
fresh coriander, to serve

1. In a frying pan, lightly toast the ground almonds until golden. Place in a bowl and set aside to cool. Now time to make the rest of the curry paste. 
2. Fry all of the spices in coconut oil for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the mustard seeds begin to crackle. 
3. Add the chopped onion and fry until lightly golden. Then add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add the dessicated coconut to the pan, and stir fry for a few minutes until golden. 
5. Let the mixture cool slightly, before adding to a food processor or blender along with the ground almonds, salt to taste and enough water to grind everything into a smooth paste. (We used around 1.5 cups of water, but feel free to add more if you need to). 
6. For the vegetables, fry an onion until soft (with the chilli if using), then add the pepper and continue to fry for a few minutes. Add in the carrot and courgette and stirfry until cooked. If the vegetables begin to stick to the pan, add a few teaspoons of water. 
7. Once the vegetables are cooked, mix in the coconut paste and cook for a few minutes. Finish with the coconut milk and lots of fresh coriander. Serve and enjoy! 

Fragrant Coconut Curry