Pan fried pumpkin blossoms and bottle gourd skin fritters

Food Issue 216 Nov, 2019

Most people love pumpkins whether green or orange. However, have you ever tried eating pumpkin blossoms, Nepali-style? It’s a delicacy in the southern plains of Nepal and they taste finger-licking good! Called kadima ke phula ke tikiya in eastern Nepal, it’s also a famous dish in the eastern Indian state Odisha, where they call it kakharu fula bhaja.
Here’s how you can prepare pan-fried pumpkin blossoms at home:

Collect pumpkin flowers and remove the pistils. Make sure the petals are intact and dust any ants, aphids and beetles from them. Wash the petals with cold water and let them drain.
Prepare a batter of rice flour, turmeric powder, chilli powder and add other spices and salt to taste. If you want the fritters to be crispy, use coarse rice flour. Dip the petals in the batter while you heat mustard oil in a pan. Fry the blossoms and turn over as the they turn yellowish brown. Make sure the flower inside the batter gets cooked well. Once you drain the oil from the fritter, it’s ready to eat. It tastes best when served with puffed rice.

A good thing about rural lifestyles is that they try to minimise wastage and practise sustainability. Called lauka ke chhala ke tikiya, fritters made from bottle gourd skin are another delicacy that is rarely found in other areas.

Here’s how to make these tasty fritters for yourself:
Wash the bottle gourd. Cut it into two halves. Rest the flat part on a plate and with the help of a knife, peeler or grater scrape the skin off the bottle gourd. Make sure you only remove the green skin and that it is shredded into fine pieces.

Make a batter of rice flour, turmeric powder, chilli powder, spices and salt and as with the pan-fried pumpkin blossoms, if you want to make the fritters crispy, use coarse rice flour. Put the bottle gourd skin into the batter and shape into flat round fritters.

Heat mustard oil in a pan and fry the fritters on both sides. Again, drain to remove excess oil and they’re ready to eat. Like the pan fried pumpkin blossoms, these fritters taste best with either puffed or beaten rice.