Baakar Bhaji (Pumpkin Curry)


It’s Divali time. Yes, I am spelling it with a ‘v’ because that’s how we pronounce it, and I did finally get the difference in the v and w sounds (thanks, Bruce) even if I don’t always remember while speaking.

And all of us have a lot to do: clean the house (the curtains, the slip covers and cushion covers, and…), even get the house painted maybe (what a chore that is). And there are all the Divali goodies to be planned and cooked. I am sure most of the Indian food bloggers are going to put up quite a show.

Is there time to put a good meal on the table? I read Nandita’s comment and how busy she has been and thought it was time for another post in the ‘under 30 min’ category. Something to help you along while you spring clean and still score with the MIL (or TH, or the wife?) 😀 .

You’ll need to have access to one Maharashtrian spice though, the goda masala aka kala masala. There is no time to make it at home at the moment but you can find a recipe here (though not the way my MIL used to make). It is to Maharashtrian cuisine what the garam masala is to North Indian. Every family has their own variation and every shop (in Pune or Mumbai) seems to have its own recipe as well.

This summer I had planned to re-stock in Mumbai but the shops failed me. None that I visited, carried the really black kind. Most were a deep brown and did not use any coconut. Now why would it be called kala (black) masala if it was supposed to be brown! So I am going to have to make my own. I now have all the ingredients but have been putting it off. I am down to the last few teaspoons full. So…anytime now.

You cannot substitute the kala masala with any other because of this one spice, the pathar phool (translated: ‘stone flower’), a kind of lichen! It gives the goda masala its distinctive taste and aroma. So, talk to your friendly Maharashtrian neighbour (hopefully, they have the black kind) and ask for some. While you are visiting, don’t be bashful, and ask for a little amsul or kokum as well.

This is a great dish with roti or dal-chaval. The big unpeeled chunks of pumpkin translate to one minute for vegetable preparation! Make the quick salad while it cooks and you have the sabzi and the salad in under 30 minutes! This will impress (visiting 🙂 ) MIL big-time!

Bakar Bhaji (Pumpkin Curry)
Baakar Bhaji (Pumpkin in a spicy curry with peanuts and coconut)

600gms ripe pumpkin, cut into 1″x1″ pieces
1/3 cup crushed roasted peanuts (do not grind very fine)
1/3 cup fine grated copra (dry coconut)
2 T khus khus (poppy seeds)
2 t goda masala
1/2 t red chilli powder (or more)
1/2 t turmeric
1/4 t (mild) heeng
1/2 t fenugreek (methi) seeds
1 t mustard or rai seeds
4-5 pieces kokum (use a little tamarind, if you must!)
1 T oil
jaggery (or molasses) the size of a small Indian lemon

Bakar Bhaji (Pumpkin Curry)

Wash and cut the pumpkin. Dry roast the khus khus and grind. Dry roast the grated copra till golden, and crush with your fingers. Heat oil in a pressure cooker (if you want this done real quick 🙂 ) and add the methi and rai seeds and then the heeng. Drop in the pumpkin pieces and fry for 5 min., stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the ingredients. Add a 1/2-3/4th cup water and mix well. Pressure cook for 7 minutes. If cooking in a pan, cook till the pumpkin is tender (20-30 min), stirring occasionally.

It should have just a little bit of gravy and not be watery. The curry is full of flavours: the tart, the sweet, and the salty, all balanced deliciously with added texture from crushed peanuts and the coconut. Yum. One of my favourite Maharashtrian dishes. Definitely.

Variation: You may replace the copra with fresh grated coconut, and the kokum with tamarind juice, and use the spice mix to stuff small eggplants and whole onions. Throw in some potato chunks as well. Leave out the fenugreek seeds. And don’t pressure cook this time 🙂 . Cook in a kadahi or heavy bottom pan.

June 15, 2007: And now you can have my recipe for Goda Masala!

16 thoughts on “Baakar Bhaji (Pumpkin Curry)

  1. Love this and yes I’ve been doing a mild bit of deepavali cooking (made three batches of nankhatai in three different trial ways :P) besides that nothing much yet since DH is travelling and its always a pain to cook just for myself. I’ve heard a lot about the Goda but never brought it home, may be I shall buy two packs and send u one- interested?

    Like this one – does it have a sweet pumpkinny taste after cooking? BTW im trying your Ma’malade. Shall mail you.
    Loads of love

    That’s a start! I too did some ‘shankarpara’ today, hit and near-miss, since I was trying to guess at MIL’s recipe.
    Goda Masala–Thanks, but no thanks! 🙂 And yes, good pumpkin taste.
    Aside– that ‘does it have a sweet pumpkinny taste’ made ne think of the George-Jerry dialogue (Seinfeld)–

    G:”Does her skin have a pinkish hue?” J: ” A hue?” G: ” Yes, a rosy glow?” J: “There’s a hue.”


  2. This is my first time on your site, and I like it right away! Indian food is one of my favorite things. I cannot believe this beautiful pumpkin curry could be on my table in 30 minutes, and it’s lowfat! I will have to browse through your archives for more like this. Of course, I love learning about authentic Indian cooking even if it is time-consuming.

    Hi Julie.  Welcome!  I visit your site on a regular basis! You’ll find a lot of cooking here that is quick and most will also be low fat, with an occasional indulgence.  But all will be loved.  Look forward to your visits.

  3. I’m here Anita wow and the color tells me it is authentic to the core. Will surprise my Dad. We had a longish discussion on it last night after Vinaya’s comment. Bhopla with the skin must help it to keep its own in the blend of spices for sure. Will update you when I do.

  4. Anita this pumkin pic here is yours! I have made this recipe so many times and can spot your pics anywhere!!!

    Copied again! and Lulu didn’t have a clue looks like!

    She has credited it to

    Thanks, for the shout-out, Anjali. I am just so fed up of this all. Lulu has edited her link but the ifood folk are not going to publish my comment I am sure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s