Kaddo Bowrani (Afghani Pumpkin)

Autumn is upon us and one of the most notable ingredients that comes out this time of year is pumpkin.  Pumpkin is usually made in sweets and desserts.  It’s all been overdone with the pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cheesecakes, all using canned pumpkin puree.   Our followers on Facebook challenged us to try out a savory dish, using fresh pumpkin.  And so the search begins, but I didn’t have to look very far.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, there lies the biggest Afghani community in the United States in a suburb called Fremont1.  Therein has tons and tons of Afghani restaurants and one of my favorite dishes that they all serve is the Kaddo Bowrani.

I normally don’t see pumpkin in the entrée or appetizer sections of a menu and I was immediately drawn to this.  So the first time I tasted it, I immediately fell in love with it.  I order it every time.  And when I introduce people to Afghani food, I always order this for them to try.  You got the sweetness of the pumpkin and the cool neutral taste of the yogurt with the saltiness and meaty texture of the meat sauce.  I really like that balance.

Amazingly, the ingredient list is simple and looks to be something that can easily be cooked at home.  Let’s begin, shall we?

Pumpkin layer:
One 2 to 2.5 pound sugar pie pumpkin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Yogurt layer:
1/2 cup plain thick Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt & pepper to taste

Meat layer:
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 pound lean ground lamb
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup water

Star ingredients:

Yes, I mistakenly took pictures of two pumpkins even though I only needed one.  And Fage is one of my favorite tasting Greek yogurts.

Prepping the pumpkin layer:

Preheat the oven to 425 F (218 C)

With a strong knife, cut through the pumpkin into quarters.

Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and the strings.

After the pumpkin has been cleaned out, peel the outer skin with a HEAVY DUTY vegetable peeler and cut into 2 inch chunks.  Put in a roasting pan and sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar, and olive oil and toss until evenly coated. (It looks a lot here because I accidentally used 2)

Roast in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.

Yogurt sauce:

While the pumpkin is roasting, let’s do the other 2 layers.

Crush a garlic clove.  This can be done easily under a chef’s knife.

Mix the crushed garlic with the yogurt,salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Meat layer:

Chop up one onion and sauté in a pan, constantly stirring, over medium heat (6 on my oven) with a little olive oil until lightly browned.  This took about 5 minutes.

Add in the ground lamb and crushed garlic, salt and pepper, and brown the meat. This took me about 5 minutes.

When the meat is browned, add the tomato sauce…

And the water.

Reduce the heat to simmer for about 20 minutes.  It’ll cook down to a thick sauce.

When the pumpkin is done, it should be fork tender (meaning a fork can run through it easily).  If it’s not, continue to roast in the oven in 5 minute increments.

Plate it up!  First put on the pumpkin layer, the top that with the yogurt, then top that with the meat sauce.  This can easily be a vegetarian dish by omitting the meat.

– Prepping of the pumpkin was the most time consuming.  Removing the strings is not that simple if you don’t want to risk removing a lot of the pulp.  Also, peeling the pumpkin was not a simple task.  The skin is very hard but I was able to do it because my peeler is pretty strong, just have to force it more than usual.
– I made a mistake of not following the original instructions of browning the pumpkin before roasting.  I was assuming that it work like other vegetables where the sugars would have caramelized and give nice color.  Unfortunately, this didn’t happen.
– By not browning beforehand, I believe it added to the roasted time.  Browning kick starts the internal cooking of the pumpkin hence a shorter time.  I put the pumpkin in cold.
– Putting raw garlic in the yogurt layer was too intense for me.  As much as I love raw garlic, it didn’t seem right.  Maybe next time, I’ll opt for a roasted garlic instead.
– You can use any time type of ground meat for the meat sauce.  I just used lamb because I felt that was the most authentic.
– I had 2 pumpkins because when I blog, I will usually have backup ingredients just in case I ruin a first batch.  I only do this when I try a recipe for the first time for the blog.

Original recipe: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/322446

– Max


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