Years ago, my Lithuanian-American parents introduced me to Afghan food. And it was love at first aromatic pumpkin bite.
Borani Kadoo is Afghan pumpkin stew, savory, spiced with heat and sweet. That description does it injustice. Here's a recipe via the San Francisco Chronicle:
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 3-pound sugar pie pumpkin
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 small jalapeno pepper, halved, seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Pinch salt
- Puree the onion in a food processor. Heat the oil in a 14-inch saute pan or large casserole over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.
- While the onion is cooking, cut the pumpkin. Set the pumpkin on its side and use a sharp chef's knife or bread knife to cut the top and bottom off the pumpkin. Put the pumpkin right side up and cut off the peel, trying to remove as little of the flesh as possible. Cut the pumpkin in half down the middle and scoop out the seeds and string. Save the seeds for toasting if you like. Cut the pumpkin into 1-inch-thick wedges and cut those wedges in half crosswise.
- Once the onion is tender, add the garlic, jalapeno, tomato paste, turmeric, ginger, sugar, salt and 1 1/2 cups of broth. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
- Once the mixture boils, turn the heat to low and gently press the pumpkin pieces into the onion/broth mixture so the pumpkin is tightly tucked into the pan. It's OK if the pieces overlap somewhat. Every few minutes, move the pumpkin around so all the pieces cook evenly in the sauce and the bottoms don't burn. Add more liquid if the pan gets dry. Cook until the pumpkin is fork-tender but doesn't lose its shape (about 30 minutes).
- While the pumpkin is cooking, combine the yogurt, garlic and salt in a small bowl.
- To serve, spoon the yogurt over the pumpkin and pour any remaining yogurt around the outside edges of the pumpkin. Serve with warm pita or naan bread.
Take it from this Lithuanian-American: cook an Afghan pumpkin; drink a German bock bier. It's quite a cultural melange and, gourd, it's good.
- On the evening of 11 September 2001, my parents dined at an Afghan restaurant in the Virginia town where they lived. The restaurant was already a favorite spot of theirs, but that night they chose to show solidarity via a shared meal, Lithuanian-Americans and Afghan-Americans united against horror and hate. Americans, all.
- On cooking appropriate pumpkin varieties:
Some of the most interesting Afghan dishes happen to feature that iconic American fall vegetable, the pumpkin. Unlike in the United States, where most pumpkins land as decoration on the front stoop, pumpkins in Afghanistan are prized exclusively for their culinary traits, and are used in everything from pickles to jam.[...] The Afghan expatriates I've spoken to remember just one variety of pumpkin from their homeland, which looks like a classic Halloween pumpkin, but differs in that it actually tastes good. Most of the colorful orange globes dotting the [American] landscape this time of year are stringy and watery, not particularly well suited to cooking. This is perhaps why many Afghan Americans substitute butternut squash for pumpkin in their recipes.
- For vegans, here's a recipe for Borani Kadoo that substitutes cashew cream for yogurt.
- A tip of the YFGF fedora to Rick Green who, via a Tweet, challenged my tongue-in-cheek pumpkin put-down. Among other things, Green is Executive Director of the Craft Brewers Guild of British Columbia and, at Great Hop Forward, a chronicler of the craft beer revolution in China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
- Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of photos, usually posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always (as is the case today), with a good fermentable as the subject. Above: a commercial pumpkin patch seen in Dekalb County, Georgia, on 4 October 2016. Camera: Olympus Pen E-PL1.
- Commercial reproduction requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.
- For more from YFGF: