Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Garden Fresh Pumpkin Shoots (Pharsi ko Munta)

Garden Fresh Pumpkin Shoots (Pharsi ko Munta)
Pumpkin Shoots are the young, uppermost tender shoots, tendrils, leaves, and delicate stems from pumpkin plants. They are considered a delicacy in Nepal. The shoots are harvested from the growing end of the vine (the top 3 to 4 inches) by pinching off the tender ends. The plants will put out a new shoot or growth after the vine has been harvested. Pumpkin shoots have a distinct light flavor that can be described as a cross between squash and spinach. They should be cooked within a day of picking or they will lose their freshness and flavor. Like any leafy green, the volume of this vegetable reduces by half after cooking. My husband is growing a small patch of pumpkin vine in the corner of our home garden along with other vegetables. This summer the vine was growing in abundance and we have been eating munta once a week. Once you taste these delicious vegetable, you will come back looking for it...

Enjoy Nepal's most loved exotic vegetable. Recipe is available in the book "The Taste of Nepal." page 169 under Vegetables (Tarkaari).

Pumpkin plant - very versatile vegetable - most parts of the pumpkin are edible, the flowers, the fleshy shell, the seeds (roasted), and the young shoots (munta).

Tender shoots and young leaves of pumpkin vines
Close-up look of tender shoots.

A pumpkin flower attached to the vine are edible -  dipped into spiced batter and fried.  They are very delicious and have a pleasant, moist, and silky texture.

Collecting several tender shoots and the young leaves as shown above

Picking through and discarding any tough, large stems and matured leaves from the vine shoots and using only young shoots and tender leaves.

Removing fuzzy outer covering and fibers from all sides.

When fuzzy covering is removed from the stem,  it is shiny - breaking the stems into 1 1/2 inch pieces.

The outer coverings, mature and fibrous leaves are headed to the compost pile.

Washed and drained
Getting ready to cook

Spices used - dried red chili, fenugreek seeds, ground turmeric, minced fresh ginger and garlic, cumin, and salt.

Frying the whole spices until fully fragrant before adding pumpkin shoots.

Cooking until shoots are tender and have reduced to half of their original volume

They wilt down like cooking any green vegetables.

Final product.....cooking time is minimal -  the shoots are very soft and delicious.

They are so delicious sauteed in fenugreek scented oil with fresh ginger paste and smashed garlic pod and other spices.  Once you taste them, you will come back looking more of it.

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  1. Hi Ms. Pathak,

    I was searching for "pharsi ko munta" in google and got through your blog. It is very interesting and I wanted to know how can I buy the seed. What should I call to the seed while buying it? Do you have any scientific name for it? I appreciate if you help me find the right seed for it.



    1. Hi Junu

      Thank you for visiting my blog and finding it interesting. Growing your own pumpkin vine is fun and rewarding. The Nepali variety of pumpkin seed was given to us by a friend. All I did is to sow the seed directly in the soil in the early summer and wait for the vine to grow. I do not know where are you located, but any variety of pumpkin seed will make a vine for the purpose of eating "pharsi ko munta".

    2. Hi Junu,
      We had a lot of pumpkin last year . The vine lasted for 3 months and the "muntas" and "gattas" made a great present to whoever visited us. The vines are growing well this year too. I love growing all types of pahadey vegetables here and i have had some success. I am sure you have already got the seeds but if not you can get from Walmart or Home Depot garden center. I am sure pumpkin will do well in IA too.

    3. Thank you for sharing your experience..

  2. Hi Aunty! I grew these in my garden and made them per your recipe this evening. They were great!

  3. Dear Jyoti,

    I am an Australian living in Tokyo and making a dictionary of Thai food, to be put into an application later. Can you give me permission to use one of your photos of pumpkin shoots? I will credit your name.

    Thank you for your help.


    1. Hi Susan

      Please use my photo for your dictionary. Thank you for stopping by.

  4. Thanks for showing pics of preparing it step by step.

  5. Great idea, thank you. Sometimes the shoots taste bitter. Why?

    1. Old and over matured munta makes bitter vegetable. Thank you for commenting.