I first experienced Afghan cuisine when I moved to the D.C. area. There was a place on Route 1 in Alexandria that wasn’t fancy but the food was great. My favorite dish was the veggie combo – pumpkin, spinach and eggplant.  All were amazing but I’ve had a soft spot for pumpkin all my life (long before it became trendy). So of the three dishes, I became partial to Kaddo.

I like to add the lamb for some extra flavor and protein boost.

Kaddo Bourani

amber cup pumpkinFor the pumpkin:

4 cups of cubed and peeled pumpkin

2 tbl of olive oil

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup of coconut sugar (you can use white sugar but I prefer coconut sugar because its low glycemic index. Some recipes also call for more sugar – a lot more – but if you get a good pumpkin like the amber cup pictured in this post, you won’t need the extra calories).

For the yogurt sauce:

1 cup cashews soaked for an hour

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp dried mint

1/2 tsp salt

For the meat sauce:

1/4 cup olive oil or ghee

1 large onion, finely diced

1 pound grass-fed ground lamb (you can use ground beef but lamb is traditional)

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

1 tbl pomegranate molasses


  1. Preheat oven to 300º.
  2. Wash the outside of the pumpkin. Cut in half. Scrape out the stringy stuff and seeds on the inside.
  3. Cut the halves into 3″-4″ pieces or so.
  4. Peel the pumpkin pieces. Use a vegetable peeler for this, but keep a sharp paring knife handy to remove the stem and hard-to-reach rind bits.
  5. Place pumpkin pieces in a large bowl. Drizzle with the oil and then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Mix until all pieces are coated.
  6. Place the pumpkin pieces in a pan large enough to hold the pieces in a single layer. I line the pan with parchment paper to make for easier clean up.
  7. Cover the pan 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.
  8. The pumpkin pieces should be dark orange and translucent.

Make the yogurt sauce:

  1. Drain cashews and blend in a high speed blender with lemon juice and a dash of sea salt until smooth.
  2. Add garlic and mint, pulse to mix.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Make the meat sauce:

  1. Brown the onions in the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  2. 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.
  3. Add all other ingredients (except molasses) and cook, bring to a boil.
  4. Lower the heat and let simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.
  5. Uncover, add molasses and let reduced.
  6. Add 2 tablespoon of yogurt sauce and mix thoroughly.

Hot pumpkin, top with yogurt sauce then hot meat sauce.

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