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September 30, 2010

The Helmand's great pumpkin appetizer recipe

pumpkin appGathering background for next week's Taste story following up on last year's pumpkin shortage, The Sun's Susan Reimer contacted chefs and restaurateurs around town who love to work with the big orange gourd. Among them, of course, was Qayum Karzai, the owner of The Helmand.

And to her surprise, Karzai was willing to share the recipe for this beloved, multi-award winning appetizer.

Karzai said it reflects Afghan cooking traditions: A lot of reliance on vegetables, especially squashes, and long, slow cooking because of limited refrigeration.

The sugar and the tiniest hint of cinnamon contrast smartly with the sharp taste of garlic in the yogurt. It's served with a peppery flat bread.

Here's a taste; look for the full article next week:


Kaddo Bowrani (Baked Pumpkin) from The Helmand Restaurant in Baltimore

Makes: 4-6 servings


For pumpkin:

1 small pumpkin (baby or spookies work best)

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil


For Yogurt Sauce:

1 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon fresh-cut diced garlic

Dash salt

Slice pumpkin and remove seeds. Peel outer skin. Slice 2-inch pieces lengthwise. Place oil in skillet pan and heat to medium heat. Add pumpkin. Cook on medium heat covered for approximately 10 minutes, turning once. Remove from pan and place in small roasting or baking pan. Sprinkle the pumpkin with the sugar and cinnamon. Cover tightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minute or until soft. Time may differ according to the hardness of the pumpkin.

For yogurt sauce, stir ingredients together until smooth.

Serve pumpkin warm with yogurt sauce.

Also see: 100 foodie things to do in Baltimore

Posted by Richard Gorelick at 12:55 PM | | Comments (27)


Talk about a public service. Thank you!

Such good news. I can not wait to make enough to serve all my friends.

OMG!!! I am SOOOO excited right now!!!! Can't wait to make it :)

THANK YOU! That is so much easier than I expected it to be, too, considering how delicious The Helmand's kaddo is.

The only question is, do I wait to make it tonight, or do I make it RIGHT NOW?

Found Libby's pumpkin at Wegman's today.

Hey Justin, don't believe I've seen you here before... Oh, and the correct answer is B) Right now.

I've found similar recipes online in the past; it was amazing to recreate the Helmand's flavors in my own kitchen.

Thanks so much for posting this, Mr. Gorelick! I can't wait to make it. I have some friends who are huge fans of this dish and they are going to be very excited to see this recipe.

richard goreick for mayor!!

Thank you from a former addict who has missed this dish tremendously since moving away. Thank you.

I've been searching for YEARS for this recipe! Many thanks to you and to Mr. Karzai especially for generously sharing the recipe!

I've been searching for YEARS for this recipe! Many thanks to you and to Mr. Karzai especially for generously sharing the recipe!

Wow! I always thought there was some sweetness in the sauce, but I guess it just picks it up from the pumpkin. Saute then bake ... brilliant.

That's a tasty pumpkin dish for sure, but in the Punjab they call it dessert.

Hullo, MD Canon! Welcome back to the ship of fools.

I love pumpkins!! I recently had 3 different kind of tasty pumpkin desserts at this going away luncheon for a person I miss so much already. Hmm maybe I should get the recipes and make them myself so I can cry into my pumpkin dishes while watching reruns of Who's the Boss & My So Called Life.

This is a strong, early play, Gorelick.

You're going to win over many fans if you keep posting good stuff like this.

thank you, and a tip of the hat to Susan Reimer for getting that recipe

Laura Lee: Thanks!
Am I to understand that you know of

I clipped it when it was published in Baltimore Magazine many years ago. Actually works even better with butternut squash, I find, and with drained yogurt like Fage.

Returning Ecclesiastical Exile,

Indeed. I especially like The Mystery Worshipper.

MD Canon! Are you back, or are you teasing us?

Dahlink ... and my other friends:

I hope I am back.

I have spent the last year in a rebuilding project. You could count the number of hours I spent sitting at my desk in the last 14 months (as in, in front of a computer) on your fingers and toes. The results are encouraging: average Sunday attendance has doubled, so has Sunday School enrollment, and we went from no budget at all to a $30,000 positive cash flow going into the summer this year. Oh, and did a $35,000 capital campaign my first month to air condition the church for the first time since 1864.

My return to the blog is motivated by a funny happenstance. I have been consulting with a local congregation, who decided not to pay me with dollars (which I told them I would not accept) but with gift cards to local restaurants. Other happenstances have taken me to Yellowstone National Park (see the Crab Cake entrys) and next week to (my favorite) Omaha and St. Paul. Can't wait to talk about how much I loved the bison, elk, local trout and venison I had out west.

Life is truly strange ... but I'm not sure I'd have it any other way.

REE, we'll look forward to your frequent reports. You have been greatly missed! Hope the upper Midwest isn't under water when you get there.

Flying to the quintessential flyover state, it was interesting to see water in many places where I wasn't expecting it. The rivers looked full, but under control. But the farm ponds I am used to seeing seemed overfull. Iowa has had a couple of big deal floods in the past three years. Maybe it's time to start farming shrimp instead of hogs.

Did anyone else make the recipe? We tried it last night and it wasn't quite the same as the Helmand's. I'm also thinking that the 3/4 cup of sugar is probably an error. It's so much sugar for a baby pumpkin!

Sarah - I think you're right. I have a three pounder on the kitchen table right now, and I'm thinking it will take considerably less than 3/4 cup. Maybe a quarter cup?

I also wonder what sort of sugar is at play. I've been trying to get my hands on some jaggery (especially the palm variety) which may be much less sweet than refined sugar. It is known in Pashto as "guḑ" (thanks Wikipedia) so it is known and used in the region.

I can get piloncillo, made of cane, pretty easily. I wonder what 3/4 of an ounce of that (shaved or grated) would be like for a small pumpkin.

REE, I think I saw jaggery at HMart. Or maybe it was at a Mexican place in the wasn't labeled as jaggery, though. Looks like it, brought it home, same thing.

I saw some off jaggery at Looney's Pub playing pool and drinking Bud Lite.

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About this blog

You are reading the archives. For updated blog posts about the Maryland food scene, see Richard Gorelick's new Baltimore Diner blog.
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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