Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cooking with pumpkin in Africa

My sister Katie and her husband  live in West Africa, where they eat pumpkin much more often than most Americans.  I asked her if she would share some of her favorite ways to prepare it as a main dish.  

Here's her response:

Pumpkin has become a staple in our diet since moving to Niger, West Africa over a year ago.  We live in the Sahel, and vegetables are hard to come by.  Pumpkin, however, is found year-round, my guess is because it has such a hard shell it doesn’t spoil easily in the heat.  It was the middle of hot season, and pumpkin and onions had been the only veggies in sight for a while.  I grew desperate and tired of eating the same old thing so I emailed my sister to see if she could send me some recipes containing pumpkin. I was so happy that she replied!
I went to the market, bought a big squash/pumpkin, and tried all the recipes within a week.  The nice characteristic of pumpkin is that it often takes on the flavor of the dish, so each dish has its own unique taste. When I have the other veggies these recipes call for available, I add them.  If I don’t, they become solely pumpkin dishes.  I look for recipes that are quick, varied, and delicious.  These were some of my favorites.
There is no substitute for the fresh basil leaves, they are a great addition!  This is a really tasty coconut milk curry.

Since I don’t have any available, I substitute a little ground coriander for coriander leaves.  However, if you can get them, use them!  I love the eggs as an easy source of protein.  A unique and very tasty stir fry that is easy to fix.

Thank you Katie!  I tried the Mollie Katzen curry ( the first link)  last week with butternut squash, and loved it.  To make it a main dish, you could add garbanzo beans.