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Lal Bhopla Bendi (Red Pumpkin Bendi)

Triphal or Indian Prickly Ash has a delicate flavour if used in the appropriate quantity. This spice is also used a lot in some Chinese cuisine. Sichuan pepper as it is also known, is said to encourage sweating in humid climate and thus help cool the body. Pumpkin is low in calories and high in nutrition, especially fibre and beta carotene. It can help with weight loss because of its fibre content which provides a feeling of satiety without adding calories. The bold orange color of a ripe pumpkin indicates it is rich in beta-carotene, which is a provitamin and a powerful antioxidant used by the body to make vitamin A. Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals — atoms that cause tiny injuries to cells. Over time, the damage can lead to diseases like cancer or wrinkling of the skin as an aging process. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, keeping them from harming our body cells keeping your body in better health and looking younger. If tumor cells do start to form, beta-carotene works to hinder their growth. Beta-carotene also triggers the body to release natural killer cells that attack and destroy tumors. So all in all, you should include pumpkin as a regular vegetable in your diet.

Recipe: Darshana Muzumdar

Serves 2-3 as part of a traditional Indian meal


  • 250 gms red pumpkin
  • ½ cup or a quarter of a coconut grated
  • 1 tbsp or to taste jaggery
  • 6-8 dried red bedgi chillies (increase or decrease depending on the variety)
  • tsp turmeric powder
  • a small lime sized ball of tamarind
  • 6 triphal with seeds removed (Indian prickly ash or Sichuan peppercorn)
  • Salt to taste


  • Remove the seeds, wash and dice the pumpkin into mouth sized pieces.
  • Steam or cook these pieces with the jaggery and salt till it is soft but not overcooked. Add half a cup of water if necessary. Remember pumpkin releases water so do not add a lot in the beginning.
  • Dry roast or sauté the red chillies in a teaspoon of coconut oil. Grind these with the coconut, tamarind and turmeric powder.
  • Crush the triphal and add to the ground mixture.
  • Add this ground mixture to the pumpkin and bring to a boil. Add more water if necessary as the coconut will absorb water and thicken as the curry cools.
  • Simmer for a minute or so till the flavours all blend well.
  • Serve hot with rice, rotis or bhakri.

Note: You can optionally add roasted or fried garlic pieces to this thick curry for added flavour.

For the Whole-Food Plant-Based (WFPB) version:

  • Use unrefined salt like rock salt.
  • Use a couple of soaked soft dates mashed into a paste with the soaking liquid instead of jaggery.

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