Halloween is upon us and I couldn't believe my luck when I found a pumpkin here in Singapore, despite the fact that Halloween is not much of a tradition here (thank you generous S'porean friends, old and new, who I keep annoying with where to find this and where to buy that... what would I do without you!)!
Now, in any other situation, I wouldn't really care all that much if I went without pumpkin carving for a year, Halloween isn't really celebrated in Austria, either, so it's not like I'll sit here and weep if I can't run around the block in a witches costume and scratchy wig in 32C! But we're house-bound at the moment, quaranteened, if you will, and I promise I will spare you the details - suffice to say that after days of making spiders out of buttons and a few pipe cleaners and drawing gazillions of pumpkins, bats and witches, I had ONE pumpkin, TWO children and a LOT of time on my hand. And it's amazing how much you can get out of just one fruit!
First up and out: the seeds. This is a novelty for me, as I said, Halloween was a non-entity when I grew up and my farmer granddad always used to say "pumpkins are for the pigs". All I knew was the pumpkin seeds (and the oil made from it) which we bought in the shops - dark green kernels, already hulled. Imagine my surprise when I bought the seeds here and they came in their white shells!
So this year, with lots of time on my hands, I decided to recycle what would normally have ended up in the bin or, as in previous years, featuring as part of our scary pumkpin display - I can't find the picture right now, but it's basically a carved pumpkin "being sick"... you get the idea.
This recipe is incredibly easy to do, and there's a chance these beauties will be done before you finish carving - a lovely pre-dinner snack, tasty morsels that add some crunch to your salad or a spicy sprinkle on your pumpkin soup... they're so versatile, you'd be foolish to chuck them in the bin! (They're also a great home-made gift to bring along to dinner parties - stored in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, they'll easily keep for a few weeks!)
160 g raw, unhulled pumpkin seeds
20 g melted butter
2 pinches coarse sea salt
1 heaped tbsp garam masala
1 clove garlic
Remove the seeds from the pumpkin, place in a large sieve over a bowl of water. 'Alternatively, I do this in the sink as the flesh can stain the more sensitive work surfaces.
Wash thoroughly, removing all the fleshy and stringy bits. Rinse thoroughly, then pour the drained seeds onto a kitchen cloth. Dry them well and place in a mixing bowl. Pour over the melted butter, combine.
Stir in the salt and garam masala until evenly distributed, then spread the seeds out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Bake in the oven at 150C for 40 minutes (fan, or 170C without) until the seeds are turning brown. Remove and transfer into a bowl, stirring in the crushed garlic - it will cook as you do so, taking off the edge.
Leave to cool completely before storing in glass jars, if only to keep yourself from nibbling them up all in one go!