I miss many things about Boston. I miss friends, family, walking. One of the big ones, though, is the food. The town I live in is lovely, but the food options are fairly limited. There’s Italian, Mediterranean, pizza…are you sensing a theme?
So, when I accidentally ran across this kaddo recipe from my favorite Afghani restaurant (The Helmand), I knew I had to make it, right away. If you haven’t had it, kaddo is baked sugar pumpkin covered in garlic-mint yogurt and a warm meat sauce. When we’ve eaten it at Helmand, we always get it without the meat sauce, but it was nice to get to make it for myself with veggie meat substitute.
It was even better than I remembered. This dish was so good, I didn’t even eat dessert because I wanted to save room for more of this. It may take a long time to make (though it’s not hard, just time consuming), it’s totally worth the effort. This is the rare recipe that I loved too much to mess with, so I will just reproduce the recipe below:
For the pumpkin
2 Sugar Pie pumpkins, each about 3 pounds
6 tbsp corn oil
3 C sugar
For the yogurt sauce
2 C plain yogurt (we used lowfat, which was fine)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp salt
For the meat sauce
1/4 C corn oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 large tomato, seeded and finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/3 C water
Make the pumpkin:
It helps to have a serious vegetable cleaver for this bit.
Preheat your oven to 300º.
Wash off the outside of the pumpkins. Cut them in half. Scrape out the stringy stuff on the inside. Cut the halves into 3″-4″ pieces or so. Peel them – you can actually use a regular peeler for this, though it helps to have a sharp paring knife to get the stem and hard-to-reach rind bits off. Peel it deeply enough that you get rid of all the green and rind.
Find a baking pan large enough to hold all the pumpkin pieces in a single layer. Use multiple pans, if need be. Cover the pumpkin pieces in the oil (yes, really, use all of it), and place them hollow side up in the pan(s). Pour the sugar evenly over the pumpkin pieces (yes, really, just grit your teeth and use all of it; if you have a small child, you may find it easier to have them do this part for you, and you can look away until they’re done).
Cover the pan(s) with aluminum foil. Bake for 2 1/2 hours, then baste the pieces with the pan juices, cover them up again, and bake for another 45 minutes.
The sugar will all melt away and end up partially absorbed. The pumpkin pieces will turn dark orange and translucent. They will have a stunningly novel texture. It is a beautiful thing.
Make the yogurt sauce:
Mix all the ingredients together. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
Make the meat sauce:
Brown the onions in the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the meat and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until it is broken up into small pieces and the pinkness is almost entirely gone. Add all other ingredients (except for the tomato paste and water) and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes or so. Stir in the tomato paste, then add the water and bring to a boil. (Really, it will probably boil as soon as it touches the pan.) Lower the heat and let simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.
Hot pumpkin, topped with cold yogurt sauce, topped with hot meat sauce.