Pumpkin Leaf- a new revelation


Food is the great attraction when I am back here in Kerala and my favourites are simple, home cooked seasonal vegetarian dishes.

Recently I heard from my sister-in-law that tender pumpkin leaves which she had growing in her garden were eaten during the current rainy monsoon month called Karkkidakom in Kerala, although I have to admit I haven’t seen much rain over the past one month here. The monsoon comes after the hot summer months and is the time of the year that people would rejuvenate their bodies with leafy vegetables, herb porridges (karkkidaka kanji) and with oil massages and baths.



I found out that pumpkin leaves, though uncommon in western cooking, is an important ingredient in South Asian and African cuisine. When cooked they are highly nutritious and rich in vitamin A, iron, calcium and many minerals.

Like me, you must be wondering how this rough prickly leaf could taste so good! I used young leaves from the plant and washed them thoroughly under cold water before shredding them into fine strips. Following my sister-in-law’s suggestion, I made a traditional Kerala style thoran (stir fry with fragrant mustard seeds and fresh grated coconut) and believe me it was a new revelation. I am sure you can use pumpkin leaves in many different recipes in place of other leaves – and so I have now decided to grow pumpkin vines in my small patio garden in London when I get back…



Mathan ila thoran (Pumkin leaf thoran)

Young Pumpkin leaves – 10-12

Onion (chopped) – 1

Red chilli – 1

Grated coconut – 1/2 cup

Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Coconut oil – 1 table spoon

Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon



  • Wash and dry the pumpkin leaves and shred into fine strips.
  • Mix the shredded leaves with the chopped onion, red chilli, grated coconut and turmeric powder.
  • Heat oil in a wok or frying pan and fry mustard seeds until they pop.
  • Add the leaf mixture, enough salt and one tablespoon of water and mix well.
  • Cover and cook for ten minutes until the leaves are tender.