Back when we lived in Cambridge, MA, my wife and I spent a fair amount of time in an Afghan restaurant called Helmand. Owned by the Karzai family (yes, those Karzais), Helmand served skillfully made traditional Afghan dishes in a welcoming environment, the dining room dominated by a gorgeous roaring brick bread oven that produced piece after piece of fresh hot flatbread. One of Helmand’s specialties was an appetizer called kaddo — pieces of baked sweetened pumpkin topped with a lightly garlic-flavored yogurt sauce. The refreshing pungent tang of the yogurt perfectly set off the warm, sweet taste of the pumpkin, making a dish that was a real stimulator of the appetite, but would have also made for a fine, sophisticated dessert. (The restaurant also offered a variant with a meat sauce, but we preferred the simpler vegetarian variety.)
Lacking a local source for the stuff, Becca reverse engineered the recipe which appears below. It’s one part harvest comfort and one part exotic flair, and an inspired way to take advantage of one of the season’s most distinctive vegetables.
For Simple Syrup:
Mix together 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar into pan on medium heat. Stir until sugar is totally disolved, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
For Yogurt Sauce:
In small bowl, mix together:
1 c plain yogurt (Greek yogurt works well)
1 tsp chopped garlic
½ tsp chopped ginger
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 350° F.
1 small sugar pumpkin, seeds removed (like you would with a Jack o’ Lantern) then cut into 4 pieces. Each quarter should be cut into 8 pieces (for about 32 total) and peeled
2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Put vegetable oil into a hot pan over medium high heat. Cast iron works best.
- Place a single layer of pumpkin into pan, and allow to brown on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip pumpkin pieces over and cook another 5 minutes, until corners are lightly browned.
- Take out pumpkin and repeat until all pieces have been browned.
- Place all pumpkin pieces into pan and add 2 cups simple syrup, then stir to coat. Put lid on pan, and place into pre-heated 350° F oven for 35 minutes, or until pumpkin is soft.
- Remove from oven and serve with yogurt sauce.