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15 November, 2016

Kumror Chhakka ; Pumpkin sixer

Comments : 6 Posted in : Main Courses & Sides on by : Ratna Tags: , , , ,



Pumpkin what?

I  know  I  have  some  explanation  to  do  here.  You  see  the  word  Chhakka  in  Bengali  means  a  sixer.

A  sixer?  What  is  that  supposed  mean?

Well  for  those  of  you  who  are  familiar  with  the  game  of  cricket,  sixer  is  a  score.  When  the  ball  is   hit  to  cross  the  boundary,  the  batsman  scores  six  runs  in  one  go.

If  you  have  played  ‘Snake  and  ladder’,  the  dice  has  a  score  of  six,  which  is  also  referred  to  as  Chhakka.

In  other  words  it  is  much  desirable.


I  have  no  clue  how  an  ordinary  Pumpkin  got  to  score  this  high  though.  Let  me  try  to  use  my  artistic  license  to  visualize  a  story  here.

Say  it  is  early  nineteenth  century  rural  Bengal.  Women  stayed  in  the  house  to  rear  the  family.  Cleaning,  cooking,  washing  clothes  kept  her  busy  the  whole  day.  The  menfolk  looked  after  the  outside  world.  Dressed  in  dhoti  and  a  loose  top,  tending  to  their  handlebar  moustache,  they  would  sometimes  peek,  through  their  thick,  round  tortoise  shelled  glasses  towards  the  general  direction  of  the  kitchen.  The  master  reassuring  himself  that  all  is  well  in  his  universe.


Maybe,  just  maybe  in  one  of  those  days,  the  master  had  invited  one  of  his  bosses  for  lunch.  Considering  the  period  it  wouldn’t  be  out  of  place  to  think  it  was  a  British  officer.  That  was  the  time  the  East  India  company  was  making  inroads  to  Bengal.  It  was  expected  that  would  be  a  five  course  meal,  how  else  could  he  impress  his  senior?

Ihar  naam  ki?’   What  is  the  name  of  this  dish,  the  officer  might  have  enquired.  Unsure  himself  the  master  might  have  called  out  ‘Ginni,  eta  ki  baniyecho?’,  Homemaker,  what  have  you  cooked?

Now  the  story  inside  the  kitchen  was  different.  Maybe  the  supplies  were  low  for  some  reason.  The  ladies  were  unable  to  whip  up  the  multiple  courses.  Potatoes  and  dried  grams  are  a  staple.  The  pumpkin  could  be  just  maturing  in  the  kitchen  garden.  As  a  last  minute  thing  the  elders  in  the  kitchen  whipped  this  mish  mash  up  and  gave  it a  fancy  name.

Whatever  the  story,  this  is  a  humble,  earthy  dish  goes  well  with  plain  white  rice  or  pooris.

If  any  of  you  have  a  different  story  I  would  be  very  interested  to  learn  about  it.

Recipe:  Serves  2  as  main.


Pumpkin  cut  in  small  cubes                                          2  Cups

Potatoes  cut  similarly                                                      1/2  cup

Whole  red  chillies                                                            2  or  3  ( optional )

Green  chillies                                                                   2

Bengal  grams                                                                 1/4 cup

Roasted,  ground  cumin  seeds                                      1/2  tsp  and  1/2  tsp

Roasted  ground  coriander  seeds                                  1/2   tsp

Fenugreek  seeds                                                            1/2  tsp

Cumin  seeds                                                                   1/2  tsp

Asafoetida  ( hing )                                                           1/4  tsp

Grated  ginger                                                                  1/2  tsp

Jaggery  ( Gur )                                                                 1/2  tsp

Ghee                                                                                 1  Tbsp

Canola  oil                                                                          1  Tbsp

Salt                                                                                    To  taste


Soak the  grams  overnight  with  water.  Next  morning  boil  them  till soft.

In  a  non  stick  pan  on  high  heat  take  a  Tbsp  of  Canola  oil.  Add  the  cumin  seeds,  green  chillies,  or  red  if  you  are  using,  and  Fenugreek  seeds.  As  soon  as  they  start  to  change  colour  add  the  hing.  Wait  for  20  seconds  till  you  get  a  nutty  aroma,  throw  in  the  potatoes,  turmeric  powder,  ginger  paste  and  salt.  Cover  and  cook  on  a  medium  flame  now,  till  the  potatoes  are  tender.  If  it  gets  very  dry  sprinkle  a  table  spoon  of water,  to  prevent  the  spices  from  getting  burnt.

Next  add  the  pumpkin  pieces  and  stir  such  they  are  well  coated  with  the  spices.  Throw  in  the  boiled  gram  and  jaggery.  As  soon  as  the  pumpkin  is  soft  switch  the  gas  off.  Add  a  Tbsp  of  ghee  and  sprinkle  1/2  tsp  of  the  roasted  ground  cumin powder.  Keep  it  covered  until  serving.

Enjoy  with  rice  or  Pooris.

Inside  Scoop;

I  used  Butternut  Squash.

The  chillies,  red  and  green  are  only  for  flavour.  Take  them  out  before serving.

The  pumpkin  pieces  should  still  be  holding  shape  not  a  mush.

Every  family  has  their  own  version  of  chhakka,  with  minor  differences.

Bengal  grams  are  available  as  “Kala  chana”  in  Indian  grocery  stores.

Ginni  is  the  short  form  of  the  word  Grihini.  It  was  customary  to  address  the  wife  this  way  as  opposed  to  the  first  name.

By  Ratna.






6 thoughts on : Kumror Chhakka ; Pumpkin sixer

  • November 21, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    As I read through your ingredients, I think calling this dish, Pumpkin sixer, is much appropriated. Pumpkin is one of the vegetable I really like dated back when I grandma cooked me something pumkin-ey. I saw lots of Fall recipes today that used pumpkin in expected ways, which frankly it was boring to me. Yours is the opposite of boring, and one I am actually excited about. Well-done, my friend. 🙂

    • Ratna
      November 22, 2016 at 2:55 am

      You are so sweet Pang! If you do try the dish I’d like to know how it turned out. You made my day. Happy Tuesday…

  • Ev
    November 20, 2016 at 3:45 am

    I Love your story Ratna. This sounds like a lovely spicy vegetarian dish . Have a great weekend

    • Ratna
      November 20, 2016 at 4:22 am

      Thank you Ev for your continued support.You have a great weekend too. Hugs..

  • November 16, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    Another favourite:-) We eat this quite often but not as exotic as yours. I’m going to use your recipe next time with jaggery and all the spices…YUMM! And Kudos to your visualization…it sounds perfect:-))

    • Ratna
      November 17, 2016 at 3:27 am

      Ha Ha, you like my story? I find lot of Bengali cooking use sugar, I wanted to avoid that, hence the gur. Hope you enjoy the Chhakka! Thank you Sonali. Have a great rest of the week.

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