They are, too. And quite delicious and nutritious as well. I always knew that pumpkin flowers are used in cooking, but this was an interesting new discovery for me, and one that I lost no time in trying out!
Recipe Source: The friendly and down-to-earth Priya, whom I met during a homestay holiday last year in Kerala, where this dish was served during one of the meals. She is also, in this case, the supplier of the primary ingredient: tender pumpkin leaves, generously picked from the vine growing in their property and handed over to us as we left, along with last-minute how-to's and tips on usage. Pictures are above. Can you spot the river flowing by in the bottom-right corner? Amazingly, they survived, wrapped in just a newspaper in a plastic bag, and were duly converted into this dish close to thirty hours later.
Here is Priya, being herself.
(All organic, except the matta rice in this case.)
Tender Pumpkin Leaves (flowers and tender stalks can be included) - A large handful, freshly picked. Choose the youngest, most tender ones.
Grated Fresh Coconut - 3-4 Tablespoons (TIP: Give one quick additional whizz in the mixie jar to further 'crush' it)
Oil - 1 teaspoon (I used cold pressed, organic coconut oil)
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Raw Rice grains - 1 teaspoon (This can be any variety. I used Matta rice, which is often used in Kerala.)
Jeera (Cumin seeds) - 1/4 teaspoon
Garlic - 2-3 flakes chopped
Haldi (Turmeric) - a pinch
Salt - to taste
1. Wash and clean the pumpkin leaves, removing the larger veins. This is quite a fibrous leaf ( a bit like Amaranth, though even more so.).
If you have the patience, you could probably leave the veins on, and simply remove the thin film that covers the larger veins, and also the tender stems, which are easily peeled off.
I chose the faster option by tearing off the larger veins, resulting in a rather shredded lot! But not to worry, it needs to be chopped fine, anyway. The pile of veins on the left gets discarded. The remaining leaves as on the right, are what we use.
If using any flowers, remove the calyx, etc, keeping just the corolla (petals).
All 'de-veined' and finely chopped.
2. Heat the oil in a heavy based pan or kadhai. Add the mustard seeds. When they start spluttering,
add the raw rice, which will also splutter and puff up.
Also add the red chilly here, if using.
3. Add the chopped leaves .
cover and cook. Avoid adding water, if possible.
4. When nearly done, uncover,
add the jeera, the garlic and the crushed coconut with a little haldi added in (I blended the last two in the mixie),
Stir it in, and cook some more, cover if required, till done.
Great paired with roti and dal, which is what we did. (This subzi can also be mixed into the cooked dal.)
Or serve it the traditional way, with steaming, hot rice.