Easy Trini Pumpkin Talkari Recipe

Pumpkin talkari is a simple side dish enjoyed in Trinidad and Tobago alongside buss-up-shut, dhalpuri or sada roti and curried sides like curry channa and aloo, mango talkari, curry chicken and more.

Talkari or takari originates from the Urdu term, tarkari, which means vegetable. Tarkari also refers to vegetable side dishes on the Indian subcontinent. When Indians were brought to the Caribbean, they cooked pumpkin with their spices and so called the dish pumpkin talkari. Today, it is sometimes called pumpkin choka and curry pumpkin.

finished pumpkin talkari

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Pumpkin talkari ingredients

These are the ingredients for my mom’s pumpkin talkari recipe. You can find measurements in the recipe card lower down.

  • pumpkin: Moschata pumpkins (Cucurbita moschata) are mainly used in the Caribbean with the crapaud back, Jamaican and Rupee varieties being popular options. You can use squash as a substitute here.
  • methi or fenugreek: this traditional ingredient adds a slightly nutty, smoky taste to the pumpkin.
  • onion
  • Caribbean green seasoning: with garlic, chadon beni leaves, Spanish thyme and pepper. You can make your own green seasoning using my recipe or pick up a bottle from Amazon.
  • pepper: scotch bonnet and pimento peppers are great options to use.
  • salt
  • oil
  • optional ingredients: my mom sometimes adds curry leaves, cumin powder (geera), and sugar. My aunt adds curry powder to the aromatics before adding in the pumpkin. So, there are different versions of making pumpkin talkari.

How to make pumpkin talkari

Prep the ingredients

Step 1: Wash and cut the pumpkin into large manageable sections. Remove the seeds and ‘guts’ and peel the skin. Cut the peeled pumpkin into thin slices (they’ll cook faster). If you aren’t using the entire pumpkin, you can freeze the slices for another time.

Step 2: Wash, peel and rough chop the onion. If you are making green seasoning from scratch, simply wash your preferred ingredients like garlic, chadon beni and pepper and blend until smooth.

pumpkin talkari ingredients

Sauté the aromatics

Step 3: Add a large heavy pot to the stove on medium heat. Leave for a couple minutes to heat up before adding in the oil.

Step 4: Toss in the methi (fenugreek) seeds and leave to toast for a minute or so. They will turn brown and begin to pop.

add methi to hot oil

Step 5: Mix in the chopped onions and sauté for 2 minutes or until translucent.

Step 6: Add the Caribbean green seasoning, pepper and any of the optional ingredients at this point. Cook for another minute or two. If you are using curry powder, however, you should cook it for a couple minutes before adding about a quarter cup of water. Once the water has boiled off, then continue with the remaining steps.

add green seasoning to onions for pumpkin

Cook the pumpkin

Step 7: Add the sliced pumpkin to the pot along with the salt. Mix thoroughly, cover the pot and leave to cook for 5 minutes. The pumpkin should release its own water and shouldn’t stick to the pot. If it does, you can add a tablespoon or two of water.

add pumpkin and salt for takari

Step 8: Remove the cover, stir the pumpkin and cover again. Cook for another 5 minutes. Repeat this step – checking and stirring – until the pumpkin has softened completely and can be easily mashed. I repeated one time.

Step 9: Once the pumpkin is soft, use a potato masher on the pumpkin until it becomes smooth. Leave to cook uncovered until most of the liquid has boiled off and the pumpkin is fairly dry. If the pumpkin is not naturally sweet (this one was), mix in one to two teaspoons of brown sugar and taste test to see if the pumpkin talkari has a pleasant, slightly sweet taste. Once it is to your liking, remove from the heat and serve alongside your favorite sides.

What to serve with pumpkin talkari

Pumpkin talkari recipe

pumpkin talkari featured image
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5 from 1 vote

Pumpkin talkari (Pumpkin choka)

This pumpkin talkari recipe is such a simple, tasty one that uses moschata pumpkin, onion, fenugreek and Caribbean green seasoning.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Caribbean
Keyword: pumpkin talkari
Servings: 4
Calories: 96kcal
Author: Ros Singh

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs pumpkin*
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp methi (fenugreek seeds)
  • 1 tbsp green seasoning (with garlic, chadon beni, Spanish thyme and pepper)
  • 1 pimento pepper (or pepper of your choice)
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 – 2 tsp sugar (optional)

Equipment

  • potato masher

Instructions

  • Wash, cut and peel the pumpkin.
  • Remove the seeds and ‘guts’.
  • Cut into thin slices.
  • Rinse the pumpkin pieces and set aside.
  • Wash, peel and chop the onion.
  • Place a large pot on medium heat. Leave to heat up.
  • Add the oil and methi.
  • Toast the methi until they pop and turn brown (1 – 2 minutes).
  • Add onions and saute until translucent (about 2 minutes).
  • Mix in green seasoning and pepper. Cook for another minute.
  • Toss in the pumpkin pieces and salt.
  • Mix thoroughly.
  • Cover.
  • Cook for 5 minutes (if the pumpkin sticks to the base of the pot, add 1 – 2 tablespoons of water).
  • Uncover and stir.
  • Cover and leave for 5 more minutes.
  • Uncover, stir and cover again.
  • Repeat in intervals until the pumpkin has completely softened.
  • Remove the cover and mash the softened pumpkin until smooth.
  • Allow the excess liquid to boil off.
  • Taste test and adjust salt, pepper and sugar levels.
  • Serve hot.

Notes

  • Squash can be used as a substitute in place of the Caribbean pumpkin varieties.
  • Optional ingredients like curry leaves and cumin powder (geera) can be added when sautéing the Caribbean green seasoning and pepper.
  • Curry powder is sometimes used and can also be added at the same time as the pepper. However, curry powder must be cooked properly. To do this, add a quarter cup of water to the pot, mix thoroughly and cook until the curry and onion resemble a paste. Then, add the pumpkin slices. 
  • An immersion blender can be used in place of a potato masher.

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