Vietnamese have their own recipes to turn pumpkins into many sorts of special chè or sweet porridge as nutritious dishes all year round.
They include pumpkin porridge with green beans, red beans, lotus seeds and many other ingredients.
My childhood was filled with memories of the fragrant pumpkin porridge mixed with peanuts and sticky rice cooked by my maternal grandmother.
A tasty bowl of pumpkin porridge, with peanuts and glutinous rice. Photo bachhoaxanh.com
My parents sent me to live with my grandmother in the northern province of Cao Bằng when I was a little girl. Apart from telling me a lot of fairy tales, she always asked me to come with her to her garden to take care of vegetables including pumpkins.
“In old times when the country was very poor, apart from cassava and potato, pumpkin helped our people to deal with hunger, particularly during the war against the French,” said my grandmother.
I was so excited to go with her to the garden. She told me how to grow pumpkin seeds. I was very impressed with young pumpkin plants spreading on the land, with their flowers and young fruit.
I was particularly happy when during an early winter day, my grandmother asked me to go to harvest ripe pumpkins.
Young people love 'chè bí đỏ nước cốt dừa' (pumpkin porridge with coconut milk). Photo vinpearl.com
To my surprise, many yellow pumpkins were lying on the ground. My grandmother told me that these fruits, which have a dark yellow colour, were ripe enough for cooking, particularly for pumpkin porridge.
My grandmother chosen a medium size pumpkin (about 1.5kg) to cook for her family of six. She peeled the fruit and took out its flesh, washed and cut it into pieces (each piece as big as match box).
She soaked 300g of glutinous rice and 200g peanuts in water for almost an hour before putting them all in a pot to cook over a medium heat for half an hour more. During the process she paid attention to the fire to prevent the porridge from spilling out.
In the final step, she put the pumpkin pieces in the pot to cook for 15-20 minutes then added molasses and continued to stir.
Vietnamese know how to cook different sweet porridge with ripe yellow pumpkins. Photo thuocdantoc.org
My grandmother said cooking the pumpkin porridge with molasses (instead of sugar) made it not too sweet.
I liked this porridge cooked by my grandmother so much because of her combination of pumpkin, glutinous rice, peanuts and pandan leaves.
These ingredients helped to make a delicious yellow porridge.
I will never forget this simple but tasty dish cooked by my grandmother. I felt as if she had put her soul into it.
My grandmother said the dish is to be eaten all year round because it is very good for health.
Pumpkin with red bean porridge is believed to be very good for health. Photo dienmayxanh.com
She sometimes made pumpkin porridge with green beans, or red beans, coconut milk and lotus seeds to cool down you down in summer and warm up in winter.
Herbalist Nguyễn Văn Thuấn from the Hưng Yên Centre for Traditional Medicine said: “Pumpkin is very good for the eyes and digestive system, particularly the brain. It helps to treat neurasthenia, and children with low development of their brain.”
It also assists to balance blood pressure and prevent diabetes, said Thuấn, warning however, that people should not eat too much pumpkin at the same time because with very high quantity of fibre, it could cause indigestion while pregnant women are advised to eat pumpkin two times a week. VNS