As the temperature decreases, the approach of autumn used to be signaled by the earth transforming into shades of orange, brown, and mustard in nature with the crisp acoustics of crunchy leaves. No more.

The arrival of fall seems to begin at the whim of Starbucks and the offering of its cult favorite, the Pumpkin Spice Latte. That’s right, the coffee Juggernaut has replaced Mother Nature. Since “PSL” hijacked the market twelve years ago, it seems that everything from espresso, donuts, bread, and beers, to non-edibles such as candles, lotions, and air fresheners, are severely pumped with the overly saccharine pumpkin spice notes. (7)

Numerous media outlets such as The New York Times, Buzz Feed, and Huffington post have tried to pinpoint the psychology of this craze and why it seems to have such a strong holding on consumer heart and purse strings. Most have concluded that the notes of pumpkin and spices in a drink drum up the senses towards nostalgia like the yearning for tradition, the comfort of pumpkin pie, and simpler times of hearth and home.

We’re reclaiming the pumpkin and flipping the script! For many of us, pumpkins making their way to our curries and dals are a marker for the fall season. And so, we share with you two of our favorite recipes for spiced pumpkin instead of pumpkin spice!

These classic Odia dishes are chock full fresh pumpkin and masalas. Do not hesitate to use other squash and gourds in place of pumpkin if you feel inspired to do so.


Serves 4
Notes: Soak 1 cup chana dal for 30 minutes. Discard water before cooking.


  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 cup chana dal
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, crushed
  • 6 small bay leaves
  • 1 pound pumpkin, cleaned, peeled and diced
  • 1 large red potato, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 red chilies
  • ½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon ghee


Boil 40 ounces water and turmeric in the heavy bottom pot.
Add chana dal and continue boiling for 7 minutes.
Add cinnamon sticks and bay leaves and boil for another 7 minutes.
Add pumpkin and potatoes then reduce heat to medium-high, cover, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes.
Increase heat/flame to high.
Add tomatoes, garam masala, and salt and continue cooking for 12 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat canola oil separately in the skillet and add red chilies and cumin—fry for about 2 minutes.
Add the fried cumin and chilies to the pot of dal in its last 2 minutes of cooking.
Slowly stir in ghee.
Finally, transfer to a serving dish and enjoy!

Kakara Bhaja Santula (Pumpkin Curry Stir-fry)

Serves 4 (6)


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 dry red chilies
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon asafetida (also known as hing)
  • 1 ½ pound pumpkin, cleaned, peeled and diced
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
  • ½ teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon ghee


Heat oil in a kadhai, or a heavy bottom pot over high heat.
Add onion, chilies, black mustard seeds, and asafoetida—fry 3 to 5 minutes.
Add pumpkin, stir, and cook another 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in turmeric and salt.
Cover and reduce heat to medium-high.
Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in garam masala and cumin and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
Add ghee, then reduce the heat to low, and cook for another 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish.