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Pumpkin Erissery

Serves 4

© by Figure 1

Erissery means “paired together” and the dish is an essential part of a sadya. Here, we’ve paired butternut squash with adzuki beans, though traditionally this hearty dish would be prepared with the thick-fleshed pumpkins we grow in Kerala. Substitute with other varieties of pumpkin and squash when available in the fall.


  • Dried Adzuki Beans (red cowpeas) 1 cup, soaked overnight
  • Salt 3 1/2 tsp (divided)
  • Butternut Squash or Pumpkin 1 lb, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Indian or Thai Green Chiles 3–5, halved lengthwise, plus extra for garnish
  • Ground Turmeric a pinch
  • Chopped Ginger 2 Tbs
  • Fresh or Frozen Grated Coconut 1 cup
  • Cumin Seeds 1/2 tsp
  • Coconut Oil 1/4 cup
  • Mustard Seeds 1 tsp
  • Curry Leaves 20, plus extra for garnish

Cook It

  1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, add beans and 3 tsp salt, and cook for 15–20 minutes, or until softened. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine squash (or pumpkin) with chiles, ginger, turmeric, the remaining 1/2 tsp salt, and enough water just to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10–15 minutes, until the squash is very soft and almost dry.
  3. Using a mini food processor or a mortar and pestle, combine coconut and cumin seeds and pound into a smooth paste. Add half the paste to the squash mixture. Add the beans and mix well.
  4. Have a splash guard and measured spices nearby. Heat oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat until nearly smoking. Immediately reduce heat to medium. (You can test the heat of the oil by dropping in a couple of seeds. The oil is at the correct temperature when the seeds crackle, but do not burn.) Add mustard seeds and temper for a few seconds, until they stop popping. (Cover with the splash guard, if needed.) Add curry leaves and remaining coconut-cumin paste and cook for 1–2 minutes, until the coconut begins to brown.
  5. Transfer this mixture to the pumpkin erissery and stir well. Garnish with curry leaves and chiles. Serve with rice.