Friday, March 25, 2011

The Food - Why Pumpkin?

I watched Iron Chef, a Japanese cooking show two nights ago, over Asian Food Channel, with 'Pumpkin' as its theme ingredient.

The very versatile fruit, popularly used in Halloween and Thanksgiving, can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted, whichever way we want to go about it.

I often have it boiled in coconut milk.
Mix together with prior stir fry ground, pound or slice fresh turmeric (if there is any), shallots (or onion), garlic and any kind of chilli.
Anchovies, prawns, dried or fresh, or the paste, is optional.
Throw in fresh turmeric leave, the aroma will be heaven.
Have it with rice.

Try frying thin slice pumpkin using tempura flour ( or mixture of wheat and corn flour, dash of dried turmeric and salt).
Then eat it hot.
Usually it substitutes My meal.

Another meal substitution is to boil pumpkin in thin coconut milk, brown sugar (preferably palm sugar or 'gula melaka') and screwpine (pandan) leave, if there is.
Then lower heat, add thick coconut, stir so as not to coagulate the thick milk.

I've never fail to order pumpkin soup whenever I eat out at Secret Recipes.
Pumpkin to Me, is comfort dish.
Soup, puree or pie, it is GOD gift.

My Mother used to slice sideway, opening the top, put in coconut milk, eggs, brown sugar (preferably palm sugar or 'gula melaka'), screwpine (pandan) leave (if its around the kitchen), then bake it.
Pumpkin Custard is ready!

Or it can be served sweet as 'halawa' a Middle Eastern dish.


Pumpkin is enjoyed by the Prophet Muhammad sollallaahu 'alaihi wasallam.

Anas b Malik radhiallahu anhu reported:
"A tailor invite the Messenger s.a.w. to a meal which he had prepared.
Anas bib Malik said:
I went along with the Messenger of ALLAH SUBHAANAHU WA TA'AALA to the feast.
He presented to the Messenger s.a.w. barley bread and soup containing pumpkin, and slices of meat.
Anas said:
I saw the Messenger of ALLAH S.W.T. going round the dish,
ate that pumpkin with relish.
So I always liked the pumpkin since that day."
- Narrated by Muslim, Book 23, Hadith 5068.

Anas r.a. reported:
“GOD’s Messenger s.a.w. used to like pumpkin.
If a dish of bread, meat and broth was put before him,
and it contained pumpkin,
he would pick up the pumpkin.
I do like to eat pumpkin because the Prophet loved it.”
- Ibn Majah and Al-Darimi radhiallaahu 'anha.

Jabir r.a. narrated from his son Hakem r.a :
“I entered the Prophet s.a.w.’s home and I saw pumpkin being cut into pieces.
I asked what that was for.
He s.a.w. said:
‘Something we put in our food to increase it.’”
- Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah r.a.

"The Holy Prophet s.a.w., amongst all other foods, liked pumpkin.
- Tirmidhi r.a.

Abu’l-Hasan bin Dahhaq r.a. narrated from Aisha radhiallaahu 'anhu that Rasulullah s.a.w. said:
“Ya Aisha, when you cook,
add pumpkins abundantly.
Because it strengthens the heart."


The pumpkin's color is a clue to its nutritional value as a great source of antioxidant carotenoids. 
 It is low in calories, and provides fiber, vitamin C, potassium and phosphorus.

Research in China reveals that pumpkin extract promotes regeneration of damaged pancreatic cells.
Compounds found in pumpkin could potentially replace or at least drastically reduce the daily insulin injections.
Pumpkin may be a source of medication, hoping to be able to boost insulin levels in order to lower blood sugar levels. 

According to Wikipedia, "research on type-1 diabetic rats, published in July 2007, suggests that chemical compounds found in pumpkin promote regeneration of damaged pancreatic cells, resulting in increased bloodstream insulin levels. According to the research team leader, pumpkin extract may be "a very good product for pre-diabetic people, as well as those who already have diabetes," possibly reducing or eliminating the need for insulin injections for some type-1 diabetics". 


Some people blend pumpkin and a yolk as face packs to refresh and rejuvenate the skin.

Honestly, I've never tried, as I'm faithful to using Eumora.


Roasted pumpkin seeds (kuaci putih) can be a great snack, some topped the seeds on ice cream.
Roasted seeds sold then, used to be saltish.
But just recently, I've found flavoured with garlic (at Sun Plaza, if I'm not mistaken).

Again, according to Wikipedia, "Pumpkin seeds have many health benefits, some of which include a good source of protein, zinc, and other vitamins, and are even said to lower cholesterol.
One gram of pumpkin seed protein contains as much tryptophan as a full glass of milk.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and phytosterols."

Pumpkin seed oil is believed to be a folk remedy for prostate problems, as it contains essential fatty acids that help to maintain healthy blood vessels, nerves and tissues.


The Chinese is known to stir fry pumpkin leaves or put into soup, but I've never eaten it before.
Anyway, My late Mother-In-Law used to prepare sweet potato leaves the same way.


The warm weather crop is grown round the world, maybe the exception of Arctic and Antartic.

I used to grow orange pumpkin along the side of My house..
Just throw the seeds on a bed of soil, and let nature takes its course.

I've never able to pluck the pumpkin fruit that I planted, but that is fine with Me.
The flowers are always plucked by My neighbours, turning them to 'kerabu' to Malaysian (?) or 'urap' (Is it Singaporean or Javanese?), mixed with grated coconut fresh chilli, and dried anchovies or prawns.


Loofah plant, related to the pumpkin, used to self-creep into My backyard.
I always had guilty feeling seeing the fruits hanging on cherry tree, and always offered them to (who else) neighbours.
I've never cooked it before.
The timing of the fruit ripening and my free time is always 'clash of the titan', wrong timing.

The fruit, by the time I was free, had already hardened.
Many of them dried up, the pod soon turned to natural sponge, in its long, natural shape.
Again, felt guilty seeing dried loofah sponge scattered behind My house.
Not appreciating GOD Gift, nature and My late Mother-In-Law.


In the 90s, I did not care much about recycling.
When My late Mother-In-Law brought Me those things, from Her Elder Sister who went back to their home village in China, I let those things staring at me at the kitchen sink for many years.
Maybe it was pleading Me to make full use of its presence.
I was more ignorant in the 90s about recycling then now, although I hate wastage.

My late Mother-In-Law used that to wash disheswhenever She was at My house, although there was sponge for Her.
She is a recycle freak, till the last of Her breath.

When My Son was six-years old, My Husband had the shock of His life.
His Mother had My Son wearing The Father's white primary school uniform.
My late Mother-In-Law then passed me a plastic bag full of white shitrs, all still gleaming white.
She had boiled them with clorox, and hand-washed them.
Yes, she hand-washed Her clothing, and My bachelor Elder Brother-In-Law's too, till She passed away.
We did buy for Her a washing machine, but it stayed covered ...

She had treasured those white shirts for more than 20 years, eagerly waiting for the day when those shirts fitted nicely on My Son.
20 years on, if She is alive today, asking for those shirts and the memory, I'll be lost...


The usage of loofah sponge reminded Me of commonly use of coconut husk before dish-sponge was widely available.

When I was in China sometime ago, I realised the traditional loofah sponge usage and its Chinese link.
No wonder My Husband bought them for sentimental reason and kept them for so long.

I was in Body Shop at Causeway Point when I realised it can be used during shower.
It is believe that the natural sponge cleans and exfoliates more deeply to hard-to-reach areas.
But watch out!
Loofah sponge can become a haven for mold if not properly maintained.
If it is properly dried up, it can last for hundreds of showers or baths.


It was during an Eidul Fitri visit at a house in Tampines when a bowl of extraordinary potpurri attracts My attention.
Upon closer look, it's a mixture of discarded coconut husk, its twiglets and small cuts of loofah sponge.

That bowl of potpurri led Me to appreciate the loofah plant that crept into My backyard, in memory of My late Mother-In-Law.


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