Fall = pumpkin season, this we know. While for so many that may be synonymous with Halloween, or pumpkin spice everything and anything, for many Armenians, it’s usually a reminder to make ghapama. You know, the stuffed pumpkin that has an entire song dedicated to it?
I didn’t grow up eating this dish, but had the pleasure of trying it in Armenia for the first time. I was immediately drawn to its beauty as a centerpiece, and watching it being cut open is truly delightful sight:
While ghapama is certainly a treat for eyes, the medley of flavours makes it a treat for the taste buds as well! Enjoy this classic with Harout blasting in the background. You can watch or read the recipe below:
- 1 medium pumpkin
- 3 tbsp coconut oil or vegan butter (for coating pumpkin and for rice)
- 2 cups long-grain white rice, cooked
- 1⁄3 cup dried apricots, chopped
- 1⁄3 cup dried plums, chopped, or cranberries
- 1⁄3 cup raisins or currants
- 1⁄3 cup walnuts, crushed
- 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 cup simple syrup (or maple syrup)
- 1&1⁄2 tbsp cinnamon
- 1⁄2 tbsp ginger powder (optional)
- 1 tsp clove powder (optional)
- 1⁄2 cup fresh pomegranate arils (optional)
- 5 tbsp boiling water
- Salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 450F (230C).
- Cut “lid” off pumpkin and remove pulp, setting the seeds aside. Using your hands, coat pumpkin in 1 to 1&1⁄2 tablespoons of coconut oil or vegan butter. Add a few pinches of salt.
- Mix remaining coconut oil (or vegan butter) into the warm rice and stir so it melts.
- Add the spices and stir. Add the dried fruits and walnuts and stir. Finally, drizzle in the simple syrup and stir.
- Stuff pumpkin with the mixture and add the hot water. Cover pumpkin with its “lid,” trimming the stem if necessary, and place it on a tray in the oven.
- Bake for approximately 1 hour, piercing with a knife before removing, to check if it’s ready. (It will be very soft when ready.)
- Cut the pumpkin in thick wedges, topping each wedge with fresh pomegranate arils (optional).
Note: Both butter and honey are used in this otherwise vegan dish, which have been substituted with coconut oil and simple syrup!
This recipe is featured in The Vegan Armenian Kitchen Cookbook, which you can learn more about here!