If you have children or work with them you’ll probably be familiar with the ‘what-do-I-do-with-all-this-pumpkin-flesh?’ conundrum this week. Especially since the type of bright orange squash we use for scooping out, making into a scary face and popping a candle inside isn’t particularly flavoursome. Being of the school that believes its wrong to waste food I do however try to find a use for it. Although lacking in taste, it does have one quality which renders it quite useful; its texture. It purees down to a fine velvety consistency which is most often utilised in smooth soups or silky pumpkin pies with the flavour quotient provided by other (usually sweet) ingredients. I wanted to give my humble pumpkin flesh some oomph and also do a bit of experimenting with it. The result is this spicy, light-textured savoury muffin which is stunning to look at, versatile and certainly gets conversation going! They can be handed round to the adults lurking in the kitchen at the kid’s Halloween party or used alongside some griddled paneer and mango chutney to start an Indian meal. The spicy seasoning is subtle and the small amount of creamed coconut gives a fantastic balance but does not make the muffin sweet. It is most definitely a savoury item and whilst savoury muffins have been around for a while, they have perhaps not taken on this particular form. Listen, if Heston Blumenthal can make curry ice-cream I can make a curry-inspired muffin!
My tip for peeling any squash, by the way, is to just hold it firmly and use a decent potato peeler. I struggled for years and wasted lots of the actual flesh because I made the common mistake of slicing my squashes into pieces first and then trying to peel the tough skin off the slices with a knife. Cutting your squash into wedges fine is you’re going to roast it because the skin can be removed after but if you want it off at the start of cooking the potato peeler method is the way forward.
4 oz creamed coconut
250g self-raising white flour
50 g of gram/chick pea flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/4 tsp each cinnamon, cumin, chilli (or to taste)
1/2 tsp each garam masala and ground coriander
1 tsp salt
4 0z pumkpin seeds
5 fluid ounces water
4 tbsp oil
Place your chunks of pumkin flesh is a zip lock bag with 1 tbsp of the oil, the cinnamon, cumin, chilli and 1/2 tsp of the salt. Give it a good shake round to coat all the pieces evenly and then tip onto a baking sheet. Bake for twenty to thirty mins until soft depending on the size of the pieces (if you had a nightmare scooping out your pumpkin and have lots of tiny bits you can do the same thing in a non-stick pan with a tight fitting lid. Do the same trick with the bag and the spices and then sweat your pumpkin down on the lowest heat possible to prevent browning/burning). Cool the pumpkin and in the meantime prepare the pumpkin seeds; put them in a small pan with 1 tbsp of oil and the ground coriander and cook overa medium heat until the seeds become browned and release a wonderful nutty smell. Next, blend the pumpkin with the grated creamed coconut, 2tbsps of the oil and the garam masala. Place the puree and the seeds into a large bowl and combine it with the beaten eggs. Finally, sieve in the flours, the baking powder and bicarb and then divide into 12 muffin cases set in a muffin tray. Bake at gas mark 4 for 20 mins. Always cool muffins on a rack to prevent them going soggy.