Bengali Style Pumpkin (Kumro Torkari)

Pumpkin is one of my favorite vegetables. Its sweetness lends itself to both dessert and savory dishes. And it cooks quickly. And, if I get to eat my favorite vegetable in the form of a different cuisine, regional Indian cuisine in this case, it is definitely something I would explore. So, I tried this quick subzi recipe of a Bengali (Eastern Indian State) style dry Pumpkin curry (also called Kumro Torkari) that is flavored with one of my new favorites spices, Panch Phoran, also an Eastern Indian spice blend.

Quick side bar on the Panch Phoran. Panch means five and Phoran means spice. This is a 5 spice blend from Eastern India and is used in Bengali, Nepali and Bangladeshi cuisine. The blend contains:

  • Kalonji (Nigella Seeds)
  • Methi (Fenugreek Seeds)
  • Jeera (Cumin Seeds)
  • Sarson (Mustard Seeds)
  • Saunf (Fennel Seeds)

Each of the above spices has a strong and distinct flavor and they all amalgamate to create a unique flavor for the spice blend. In order for this unique flavor to be diffused through the food, it is always fried in oil or ghee in order for the essential oils of the spices to be released.

Kumro Torkari (Kumro is Pumpkin and Torkari is subzi/vegetable) is a quick and easy side for rotis or for dal-chawal. It uses a minimal spices and yet is so flavorful. It is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. Traditionally, this recipe calls for using Pumpkin with skin, but I chose to peel it off.

Prep time5 minutes
Cook time20 minutes



  • Pumpkin – 2 cups, diced

Spices, Flavors and Herbs

  • Dried Red Chili – 2
  • Panch Phoran – 1 tbsp
  • Red Chili Powder – 1 tsp
  • Dhania (Coriander) Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Jeera (Cumin) Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – As per taste
  • Cilantro – A handful for garnish


  • Cooking Oil – 2 tbsp (Mustard Oil is recommended, but is optional)


  1. Add oil to a pan and heat it
  2. Once the oil has heated, add the panch phoran and dried red chili. Let the spice blend fry in the oil for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the aromas are released
  3. At this point, add the diced pumpkin to the pan. Coat it with the oil and spice blend. Cook it with the lid closed for 10 minutes on medium-high heat and for another 5 minutes with the lid off on medium-high heat (This prevents the pumpkin from turning into a mush and will hold its shape)
  4. After this, add all the masalas and salt. Add a splash of water to de-glaze the pan, mix well and cook for an addition 3-5 minutes. Check constantly to ensure pumpkin pieces are tender. Using a spoon, cut a piece of pumpkin. If it is an easy and clean cut, the pumpkin pieces are cooked through and are not mushy. At this point, take the subzi off the heat
  5. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rotis or dal-chawal

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