Cambodia Cookbook-2….squash love!

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Photo by dreamstime via The Silk Road Gourmet

My vegetable lady at Psar Tuol Tom Puong (Russian Market) is always such a delight!  She always has really fresh herbs and greens ready to sell and what I love about her is that she always puts a free surprise in my bags.  The surprises are usually a huge bunch of scallions or chili peppers, but this time, she hacked off a huge section of a pumpkin!

Now I’m not all that accustomed to cooking with squash.  It was never part of my diet growing up and only this past autumn did I ever make my first pumpkin pie and learn how to carve a butternut squash! So now that I had this big piece of Cambodian pumpkin in front of me – I had to figure out what to do with it?  Since i was planning on cooking Indian food last night – we wound up with this delicious South Asian-flavoured pumpkin curry.  It was love at first bite and I found myself craving for more after we finished!  So I thought I’d share the recipe and where to get all the ingredients again! xoxox, t

PS – A random fact about squash: they are not indigenous to all parts of Asia and were brought over by the early Spanish, Portuguese and later French explorers and colonizers and eventually incorporated into the local cuisine.  You can read more about regional squash dishes here!

Photo by Torview

Ridiculously Simple Pumpkin Curry
Adapted from Torview

2 cups pumpkin or other squash, diced into cubes
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp mustard or cumin seeds
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove – minced
1/2 tsp ginger – grated
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp coconut milk or yogurt

1) Heat oil over medium heat.
2) Add cumin/mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, add the onion and cook for about 4-5 minutes.
3) Add ginger, garlic, the rest of the spices, salt, pumpkin and mix well.
4) Add water, mix and cook over medium heat, covered, until the pumpkin is soft.
5) With a back of a spoon mash the pumpkin and mix the coconut milk/yogurt and stir, cooking for about 2 minutes then remove from heat serve hot.
6) Serve with rotis or rice.

Bon appetit!

And where can you get all of this?

Most of the spices are easily available at Pencil Supermarket.  Recently I’ve discovered that there’s a supermarket at Paragon Shopping Centre which sells them for even cheaper, including curry leaves and garam masala!

Cambodian pumpkin can be found at most wet markets in Phnom Penh.  And the cool thing is that you don’t even have to purchase an entire massive fruit!  Market sellers will gladly cut you off a sizable piece, which can cost between 1000-3000R (25-75 cents).  If a butternut squash is what you’re up to – you’re in luck!  You can get a cute perfectly sized one for about 1500R (around 37 cents) depending on weight!

Oh gosh and I have a random point on olive oil!  Long gone are the days when 500mL of olive oil cost me less than £2 at the local Sainsbury.  Because I’m in-between things (and therefore on a budget) right now, I have some time on my hands and decided to perform a cost-effectiveness analysis on olive oil, an expensive imported item in Phnom Penh.  And surprisingly, I’ve found that the best price for extra virgin olive oil can be found at Lucky Supermarket – under this new Greek brand, Mylopotamos – directly imported from Crete.  $5.95 for 750mL!  Unheard of!  A win for more home-made salad dressings and all other dishes!  Woot.

And in one of my next posts, I’ll be covering all about Phnom Penh’s hidden collection of grocery stores serving the city’s various cultural populations.  This is where you’ll be able to find all those specific ingredients and spices (really specific ones like asefotida and nigella) you need, rotis, pappadums, and some really fresh yogurt too!


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