It’s the end of November and we finally took our Halloween pumpkin off the porch. Since it hadn’t been carved into a jack-o-lantern and seemed in fairly good shape, I wanted to cook it up. One year when I was living in a 3rd floor apartment in Virginia, I forgot about our Halloween pumpkin for several months and when I finally picked it up one day by its stem, the bottom had rotted and its insides all fell out. I was so surprised when that happened that I flung the top part of the pumpkin right off the balcony, without even thinking! What a mess that was to clean up.
To save this year’s pumpkin from a similar fate, I turned to an old favorite, Kaddo Bourani. Below is my vegetarian version of this delicious Afghani pumpkin stew. I don’t know if the lentil rice pilaf is traditional, but I like the combination because it takes care of the protein requirement for the meal. This dish is a big hit with everyone who has tried it, including my kids. If you have a large pumpkin or hubbard squash, the recipe can be doubled and frozen. You’ll just need to make fresh rice and yogurt sauce to serve with the leftovers.
Kaddo Bourani and Lentil Rice Pilaf
· 3 lb sugar pumpkin, hubbard squash or calabaza squash. It’s best to use one of these squashes, as other winter squashes don’t work quite as well with this recipe.
· 2 T corn or canola oil
Lentil Rice Pilaf:
· 4 cups water
· 1/2 t salt
· 1-1/2 cup brown rice
· 1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
Sweet Tomato Sauce:
· 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
· 1 clove garlic, crushed
· 1 inch piece of ginger, grated finely
· 1 T ground coriander
· ¼ t black pepper
· ½ T salt
· 1/3 cup sugar
· 1 cup plain yogurt
· 1 clove garlic, crushed
· 2 T mint leaves, chopped (fresh is best)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds, then cut each half into 3-4 crescent wedges. Divide between two baking sheets and add about ½ cup water to each pan. Roast for about 1 hour or until a fork will barely pierce each piece all the way through. Set aside to cool a bit, then peel off skin and cut pumpkin flesh into roughly 1 inch chunks.
In a medium saucepot, heat the water to boiling and then add the lentil rice pilaf ingredients. Simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes or until rice is done. (If you'd like a little more flavor, you can first saute an onion and garlic clove in oil, then add the water and bring to boil.)
Combine the ingredients to make the Sweet Tomato Sauce.
Add oil to a wide-bottomed, deep skillet. Add the pumpkin chunks and sauté about 5 minutes on medium high, until lightly browned on all sides. Stir in Sweet Tomato Sauce. Simmer, covered, about 20 minutes.
Combine ingredients to make Yogurt Sauce.
To serve, pile pumpkin stew on top of the pilaf, then drizzle with the yogurt sauce. Garnish with extra chopped mint, if available.