There’s an Afghan restaurant on Van Ness in San Francisco called Helmand Palace. The decor is painfully outdated, the service is spotty, but it is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. Not to mention it is owned by brother of Hamid Karzai, you know, the corrupt and ever so stylish president of Afghanistan. Helmand Palace was a bit out of the way for us, so whenever we’d go we’d load up on appetizers and dessert. One of my must-eats was Kaddo Bourani, a dish with candied pumpkin, spicy ground meat, and garlicky yogurt. It may sound a little weird, but it is incredibly flavorful and a wonderful balance of sweet and savory. If you’re in the Boston area, they’re also behind Helmand Restaurant in Cambridge.
Kaddo Bourani is traditionally made with pumpkin, you can also use butternut squash as I did here. Warning to my fellow procrastinators: don’t make this when you’re hungry, it takes about 2 1/2 hours to roast the pumpkin/butternut squash. The original recipe calls for 3 cups (!) of sugar, but I just can’t bring myself to use that much sugar for anything except jam. The end result is still plenty sweet.
Kaddo Bourani (Afghan pumpkin dish with meat sauce and yogurt)
For the pumpkin:
1 3lb sugar pie pumpkin or butternut squash
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup sugar
For the meat:
1 onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, diced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 1/2 pounds of ground meat, beef or lamb
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander
salt & pepper to taste
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth or water
For the yogurt:
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried mint
salt & pepper, to taste
warm naan or pita bread
Pre-heat oven to 300F.
Wash, peel, and seed the squash. Remove all of the rind. Cut the squash into halves and cut into slices that are about 3/4″ to 1″ thick. Layer the baking sheet with the squash slices, coat with the olive oil and spread the sugar evenly over the slices. Cover with aluminum foil for 2 hours. After 2 hours have passed, baste the pieces with the juices from the pan, cover it up again, and return to the oven for another half hour.
Mix the garlic, mint, salt, and pepper into the yogurt. Store in the fridge until just before serving.
Add oil to a saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, jalapeno peppers, stirring until fragrant, or about 30 seconds. Add the meat, stir until it is broken into small pieces and most traces of pink are gone. Add the spices and let it cook for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste and broth (or water), lower the heat and simmer until the pumpkin is ready.