- Rohan Kamicheril
Sihikumbalakayi Hulitove | Pumpkin Hulitove
While it’s true that I’m usually the first one to fall into a seasonal depression when the farmers market switches over from fresh and bright summer produce to the more muted, starch-laden offerings of the fall and winter (potatoes, pears, I’m looking at you), I’m equally guilty of feeling a similar panic when winter gives way to spring. There is, I’ll reluctantly admit, something soothing about all those beiges and tans and all those slow-cooked meals and roasted root vegetables, and the thought of letting them go is always harder than I expect it to be.
This pumpkin hulitovve, from Karnataka, is a dish that, I find, bridges the gap between the seasons so wonderfully. It gives me another opportunity to use the lovely winter squashes that are still at all the markets (I used a kogi nut squash, but kabocha or acorn would be lovely here, too), but, unlike so many winter-time squash preparations, it’s light, zesty, and bright.
This recipe is loosely adapted from a recipe for sihikumbalakayi hulitove on Swayam Paaka, a YouTube channel that I love browsing through—in part for all the interesting Kannadiga recipes, but also because it’s so great to see recipes being shared in Kannada, and to hear spoken Kannada, a rarity in New York. (It’s also useful practice for a delinquent and foundering Kannada speaker like myself.)
The word hulitove (hoo-li-tové, FYI) refers to a whole group of Kannadiga dishes, the thing they have in common being a souring agent—“huli” is the Kannada word for sour, and the fact that they usually contain some kind of dhal. Sometimes the sourness comes from tamarind (like in this recipe), in others its green mango (like in this maavinakayi hulitove). The sourness in this recipe is fairly mild, and is a lovely complement to the sweetness of the pumpkin and the gentle heat of the spices.
So grab one of the last pumpkins you’ll be able to get for a while and make this before the asparagus take over. On a bright spring day there’s almost nothing better than a plate of hot rice and hulitove, some sandige, and a big dollop of ghee.
Sihikumbalakayi Hulitove | Pumpkin Hulitove
4 cups starchy winter squash such as acorn, kogi nut, or kabocha, peeled, deseeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup toor dhal, washed and drained
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ghee
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp ghee
6–8 moderately spicy dried red chillies, such as byadagi chillies
3 tsp coriander seed
2 tsp channa dhal
2 tsp urad dhal
1 stick cinnamon
¼ cup grated coconut (frozen will do in a pinch)
1 walnut-sized piece of dried tamarind, soaked in ¼ cup of freshly boiled water
2 tsp jaggery
Leaves stripped from 1 branch of curry patta
2 dried red chillies (again, byadagi or other moderately spicy chilli)
1 tsp black mustard seeds
¼ tsp asafetida
Cook the half-cup of toor dhal in two cups of water over medium heat along with the turmeric, salt, and ghee, until soft enough to mash with the side of a spoon. Set aside when done.
Add the pumpkin, along with a heaped teaspoon of salt and enough water to cover it by an inch, to a Dutch oven, large saucepan, or kadhai. Place over medium heat and bring to a slow boil.
While the pumpkin is cooking, prepare the spice blend. In a medium-sized pan, fry the chillies, coriander seed, channa dhal, urad dhal, clove, and cinnamon together in the tablespoon of oil until the spices are fragrant and the lentils have turned a light golden brown. Take care not to burn the lentils or spices.
Add the contents of the pan to the small jar of a blender along with the coconut, tamarind pulp (make sure to remove any large strings or seeds), and jaggery, along with half a cup of water. Grind to a smooth paste, stopping occasionally and using a spatula as needed to push down any of the spices that are clinging to the side of the blender. Scrape out of the blender jar and set aside until needed.
When the pumpkin has just come to a simmer, add the ground spice paste as well as the cooked toor dhal and stir well to combine. Roughly tear the curry leaves by hand and stir into the pan as well.
Cook on low heat for twenty minutes, till the edges of the pieces of pumpkin have started to turn fuzzy but still hold together.
To finish the hulitove, heat the two tablespoons of ghee in a small pan and add the dried red chillies to it along with the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds have sputtered for a couple of seconds, remove the pan from the heat and add the asafetida. Swirl the oil around in the pan briefly and then pour the hot seasoned oil over the hulitovve. Stir to combine and check for seasoning.
Serve piping hot with rice and ghee.