Winter's dissipated into thin air and, undeniably, summer is upon us. It's only fair that you shift your diet from those body-warming cups of hot chocolate, piping-hot dal khichdi and spicy curries to something which is cooler and lighter on your palate. For the next two months, you should probably tuck into a lot of pumpkin – stir-fried, pureed and made into desserts. Neelanjana Singh, a nutrition consultant with Heinz Nutrilife and president of the Indian Dietetic Association Delhi chapter says, "It's always best to eat according to the season because the crops growing in that season contain micro-nutrients essential to the needs of that season. Due to heavy sweating in summer, there is not only loss of water from the body, but also other essential minerals and nutrients. Pumpkin is a summer crop in India and is loaded with beta carotene, manganese and selenium, all of which need to be replenished in the body from time to time. It's also high in water content, thus making it ideal." With that in mind, check out these three amazing pumpkin recipes, which are sure to keep you cool during this sweaty season.  

Pumpkin Hummus

01 pumpkin hummus summer foods

This pumpkin hummus is the perfect dip for a summer house party and it can be put together in a very short span of time. Ingredients: ½ cup pumpkin puree ½ cup tahini 3-4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 tbsp lemon juice 1 tsp salt ½ tsp paprika ¼ tsp turmeric Instructions: Combine all ingredients together in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Recipe and Image Source: Myheartbeets  

Pumkin Leche Flan

02 pumpkin leche flan summer foods

As the mercury goes up, it's time to effect a change in your choice of desserts too. Swap those delicious, yet heavy and body heating flavours of chocolate, caramel and almond for lighter flavours like lime, fruits and pumpkin. For starters, you could try out this delicious pumpkin flan - chilled, creamy and wobbly and drenched in light caramel. Ingredients: For the caramel sauce: 1 cup sugar ¼ tsp lemon or lime juice 2 tbsp light corn syrup 1/3 cup water For the flan: 350 ml evaporated milk, or half milk and half cream 400 ml sweetened condensed milk 1 tsp vanilla extract 1/3 cup pumpkin puree 1 dash cinnamon 1 dash ground cloves ½ teaspoon ground ginger or grated fresh ginger 1 dash allspice (optional) 3 whole eggs 2 whole egg yolks Instructions: For the caramel: Keep eight one-cup-sized ramekins ready. Then, put the caramel ingredients in a cool sauce pan. Put the pan over medium-high heat and let it start heating up. Let everything dissolve together and begin to simmer. Occasionally pick it up and gently swirl it around to lightly mix it. Once it has a dark, rich amber colour, take it off heat. Working quickly and carefully, pour enough caramel to thoroughly coat the bottom of each ramekin. Set aside to cool and harden. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put a kettle of water on the stovetop to boil, and line a roasting pan large enough to hold your ramekins with a kitchen towel or a silicone mat. For the flan: Into a blender, pour a bit of the evaporated milk, all the condensed milk, the pumpkin, spices, and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Let it sit. In a medium-sized bowl, crack three eggs and add two more egg yolks before gently whisking. Mix in the rest of the evaporated milk, along with the contents of the blender. Do not allow bubbles to form. Now that everything is in one bowl, pour the flan mixture through a strainer or sieve and into a separate, empty bowl. Again, be careful when pouring to avoid creating bubbles. Repeat, this time straining back into the original bowl. Continue straining the liquid 3-4 times to get it smooth. Carefully pour the mixture into the ramekins (make sure caramel has hardened), until they are about two-thirds full. Place the roasting pan in the preheated oven and position ramekins inside the pan. Cover each ramekin tightly with foil, then pour hot water into the pan to about halfway up the ramekins. Cook flan in the water bath for about 35 minutes, or until only slightly wobbly. Cool ramekins on a cooling rack, then transfer to the refrigerator for at least two hours to cool completely. To serve, run a thin knife around the edges and invert the ramekin onto a serving dish. Recipe and Image Source: The Pioneer Woman  

Pumpkin Kalan

03 pumpkin kalan summer foods

This cooling gravy of mushy pumpkins tossed with cumin, curry leaves and grated coconut, and finally topped with yoghurt, is exactly what you need for dinner on a warm summer evening. Pair it with steamed rice and a refreshing bowl of lemon rasam on the side to beat that summer heat and quench your thirst.  Ingredients: 100 gms pumpkin cubes 1 cup yogurt ¼ tsp turmeric powder ¼ tsp red chili powder ½ tsp black pepper powder Salt to taste Water as needed For grinding: ½ cup grated coconut 2 green chilies ½ tsp cumin seeds For tempering: 1 tbsp coconut oil ½ tsp mustard seeds ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds 2 dried red chilies Curry leaves  Instructions: Wash, discard the seeds and chop the yellow pumpkin into medium-sized pieces. Grind the grated coconut, cumin seeds and green chili together; then set it aside. Whisk yogurt and keep it ready. In a pan, cook pumpkin with a little water and add in the red chili powder, turmeric powder, black pepper powder and salt. When it is cooked together, mash slightly. Add in the ground coconut mixture. After it has boiled for a minute or two, lower the heat and add yogurt. Simmer and cook till it starts thickening. For the tempering, heat coconut oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds, then add dried red chilies and curry leaves. Pour this tempering to the prepared curry and mix well.  Recipe and Image Source: Sim’s Tadka

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