These little beauties filled with spicy Indian rice make an impressive dinner party centerpiece and are a great way to cook pumpkin without any of the hassle of having to chop and peel them!
They do take a little while to prepare but it’s worth it. If you use the smaller culinary pumpkins you should aim for one pumpkin per person. You can scale the recipe up accordingly if you want to go for a larger pumpkin to share though!
This will serve 3.
You will need:
3 x 500g Pumpkins
a large pinch Saffron strands
250g white Onions
4 Garlic cloves
50g root Ginger
1/2 – 1 tsp Chili powder
1 tsp ground Cardamom seeds
1/4 tsp grated Nutmeg
3 small Cinnamon sticks (approx 1- 2 inches)
1/2 tsp whole Cloves
3 Bay leaves
2 blades Mace (see image below)
1 tsp Garam masala
1 green Chili
juice of 1 1/2 Limes
90ml Soya yoghurt
250g wholegrain Basmati rice
large handful fresh Mint leaves
So first of all a note about the spices. The ground cardamom can be hard to find in the shops and in fact I couldn’t find any so I ground my own. I used green cardamom pods and removed the seeds from the inside and whizzed them in a coffee grinder. You could use a pestle and mortar, or you could just leave these out. Blade mace is something I’ve not used before so this was a new one for me! It’s available from larger supermarkets (the brand I used was Bart’s) but in case it’s new for you here’s a little pic of what it looks like!
Start by soaking the saffron strands in 2 tbsp hot water and leave for about 30 mins until the water turns a deep red colour. Just leave this for now (we need it later!).
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Thinly slice the onions and pop in a large pan with a little olive or coconut oil. Heat for 10 – 15 mins to soften them. Stir occasionally so they don’t burn. While the onions are cooking chop the garlic and ginger and pop in a food processor with a little water (1 – 2 tbsp) and blitz to a paste. Add this paste to the onions and cook for a few minutes.
Then de-seed and chop the chili finely and add this to the onions, together with all the spices and the lime juice. Cook for a further few minutes.
Cut the top off the pumpkins and use a metal spoon to remove the seeds and innards. Keep the seeds (you can roast these with some salt for healthy snack 🙂 ). Make sure you leave the flesh intact. Put the pumpkins in a roasting pan and spoon the onion mixture into each one.
Put the lids back on to the pumpkins and cover the whole dish with foil. Then place in the oven to bake for 1hr 15 mins (or until the flesh is tender). While the pumpkins are cooking wash the rice and soak it for 15 mins in cold water. Drain it and then cook it according to the instructions on the packet.
Once the flesh is tender remove the pumpkins from the oven but leave the oven on.
Scoop the onions and the pumpkin flesh out of each pumpkin into a saucepan leaving a thin layer of flesh inside the skin (this should be easy to do if they’re cooked through). Be careful not to pierce the skin. Stir the soya yoghurt in to the onion and pumpkin mix.
Warm the pumpkin mix if it has cooled and then put a layer in the bottom of the pumpkins, then add a layer of rice and some mint leaves. Continue to layer until the pumpkin is full and finish with a rice layer. Pour the saffron infused water over the top and then pop the lids back on. Put an inch of water in a roasting pan and then wrap the pumpkins in foil and place in the pan (the water stops the bottoms burning). Place back in the oven to warm through.
Remove when warmed and serve with a sprig of mint!