Borani Kadoo (Afghan Braised Pumpkin)
I’ve been wanting to do a savory pumpkin dish for some time now, and as I eyed the beautiful curcubit specimens at our local farmer’s market, the memory of a dish I once had at an Afghan restaurant came to mind. Warm, comforting, savory, beautifully-spiced but not spicy– it would be a perfectly seasonal vegetarian entree that would satisfy the grownup palates but produce ample leftovers to use for feeding the dentally-challenged highchair set.
Insofar as any Afghan dish can be considered “popular” in America, Borani Kadoo (alt: Kadu Bouranee) would probably be it. From what I can tell, versions of this dish are also found in Persian (Iranian) and Pakistani cuisine, though they may simply be referred to as “kadu” (pumpkin) something and served without yogurt. The term “borani” generally refers to a yogurt-based appetizer or dip, often served cold and with bread. For example, there are many different types of Borani dishes in Persian cuisine, including spinach ones and eggplant ones. And lookie there: we’ve officially exhausted my knowledge of Central Asian cuisine.
I found this recipe for Borani Kadoo and followed it pretty much to a tee (with the exception of omitting the jalapeno to make it less aggressive to baby palates). It appears to be the most popular one floating around the web, and for good reason: it’s super simple and requires very little prep; the only real effort is actually cutting and peeling the pumpkin itself. (If you’ve never done this before, click here to read my previous post on pumpkins to learn how to safely do it, and make sure you have a really good chef’s knife that’s up to the task.) I used a Cheese Pumpkin, which is a beige-colored pumpkin with texture quite similar to butternut squash, which, incidentally, would be a perfectly acceptable stand-in for the pumpkin this recipe calls for. I might also suggest a cilantro or fresh mint garnish for some visual interest and a splash of complementary herbaceous flavor to cut some of the pumpkin’s sweetness, though the sour yogurt works wonders to this effect.
Other serving suggestions: toss into an arugula salad to add some substance to a lunch meal; toss in with some pasta, ricotta cheese, grated Parmesean and fried sage leaves for a delightful one-bowl dinner; or cook it down a little softer than the recipe suggests, layer with the yogurt sauce and serve as a dip alongside pita wedges or gluten-free crackers.
To boost the nutritional value of this already nutritious, high-fiber, high Vitamin-A recipe, consider using plain 0% Greek Yogurt to make the yogurt sauce rather than plain regular yogurt. Doing so will also cut the lactose content significantly if this is an issue for you.
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