Pumpkin, Spinach & Buttermilk Soup

There’s a contest on at CAL, that laid certain ingredient restrictions for qualifying entries. I chose to work with Pumpkin, Spinach and Cinnamon from the list.

It’s fun to try and make something when we don’t have a world of choices. I also believe we’re at our creative best when our options are restricted.

This soup won’t taste very good with rice or rotis IMO, even though it seems more like a curry. Might go well with Kerala parottas or Bengali lucchis – maida flatbreads of different sorts essentially.

It is low carb, somewhat nutritious, though it can support more vegetables to improve nutrition and quite low fat.


  • Main
    • Pumpkin, about 300gms, blended, with a little water
    • Spinach, handful, chopped
    • Buttermilk, Mother Dairy, masala version, 2 packets (400ml)
  • Flavours
    • Onions, 2 medium, finely sliced
    • Ginger, 3 tablespoons, grated
    • Mustard seeds, 3 teaspoons
    • Urad dal, 3 teaspoons
    • Cinnamon, 1/4th teaspoon
    • Green chilies, 6 pieces, slit
    • Black peppercorns, 1 tsp, pounded fine
    • Hing powder 1/2 tsp (not pure resin)
    • Red chilies, dried
  • 3 tsp cornstarch mixed with cold water
  • Finish
    • Garam Masala
    • Salt to taste
    • Coriander, fresh, for garnish


  1. Heat oil, splutter mustard, brown the urad dal, fry the ginger, hing, dried red chilies, fresh green chilies and curry leaves.
  2. Add the onions, fry till beginning to brown at the edges.
  3. Add the pumpkin, mix well, add the buttermilk. Thicken with cornstarch and mix well. Simmer 2 – 3 minutes.
  4. Bring to a boil. Add the spinach leaves, cinnamon, salt and garam masala per taste. Simmer 5 minutes. Mix well.
  5. Serve garnished with coriander leaves.


  • Thickening is to avoid the buttermilk splitting/curdling. If you’re alright with that, skip the cornstarch.
  • Cream can taste nice in this. If you do add cream, be careful of it splitting, both due to temperature, and acidity.
  • This soup supports more vegetables. Add as per cooking time required. For example, add carrots toward the middle and small broccoli florets towards the end.
  • Reduce chilies per taste. Keep in mind, chilies will reduce carb cravings.


Banarasi Kaddu ki Khatti Meethi Subzi

Certain memories of one’s childhoods never fade away. For me, every summer vacation Mom used to take us from Gujarat to our Nani‘s house in Banaras. Every morning me and my cousins would go to Gangaji for a bath and while returning jam kay bhook lagti thi and Nani used to keep this dish ready for us to eat. Believe me, simple kaddu ki subzi and puri would give us so much happiness.

My Nani was widowed at a very early age so she had very limited resources. She use to cook on a chulha, and we kids would surround her and sit, while she made garam garam puris and serve us in kuut ki thali (brass thali).

Sometimes, I feel kaash time machine hoti movies ki tarhah and I could relive those days once again. So today was my lunch, banarasi kaddu ki khatti meethi subzi with masala puri.


  • 250 gm Pumpkin/Kaddu, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 3 tsp Mustard/Sarson oil
  • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds/Methi dana
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin seed/Jeera
  • 2 nos Red chilli, dried
  • 2 nos Green chilli
  • pinch of Asafoetida/Hing
  • 1/2 tsp Red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder/Haldi
  • Salt as per taste
  • 1/2 tsp Dried mango/Amchur powder
  • 1/4 tsp Rock salt / kala namak
  • Jaggery/Gur as per taste


  • Add oil in a kadhai and heat till it starts smoking. Switch off the flame and wait for a minute or two, so the oil cools a little and doesn’t burn the spices in the next step.
  • Add jeera, hing, methi dana, dried red chillies and green chilies.
  • When the mixture becomes aromatic, add kaddu, salt, haldi and 1/4 cup water.
  • Cover and cook till almost (80%) done.
  • Add gur, chilli powder, amchur, rock salt.
  • Cover and cook on a very slow flame till the oil separates.
  • Serve hot with masala puris.


  • The ingredients mentioned are for one portion
  • If you don’t have mustard/sarson oil, any other can be used
  • Haldi/turmeric powder can be less if you wish
  • When removing the skin of the pumpkin/kaddu, don’t remove too much. Use a peeler not a knife.
  • The distinctive flavour of this dish comes from the sarson ka tel, gur, methi dana and rock salt.
  • An iron kadhai is best for cooking this dish.