Made with tender cubes of pumpkin topped with subtly spiced ground beef, this kosher version of the Afghani dish kaddo bourani features a creamy, minty sauce made with coconut cream to keep it dairy free.
When I was a college student, before my kosher-keeping days, my friends and I used to frequent a hole-in-the-wall Afghani restaurant on St. Mark's Place. Afghani cuisine is a gold mine for anyone who enjoys the flavors of the Middle East and of India, being situated at the flavorful crossroads smack between them. From the little restaurant I learned to love spiced Arghani biryani dishes of all sorts, delightful nibbles alongside, succulent meats (this from a generally non-meat-liker), and the wonderful Afghan way with eggplants. Kaddo bourani, however, I didn't encounter there, but rather googling around for something new to do with ground beef. I was lucky to stumble across a recipe that replaced the usual yogurt in the sauce with coconut milk, making the dish kosher-friendly. (I've since upgraded the coconut milk to coconut cream.)
Prepping pumpkin for kaddo bourani
You can use any kind of eating pumpkin for this dish, such as a sugar ("pie") pumpkin which is sold in many US grocery stores in the fall. You'll need one that weights about 2-2.5 lbs. / 1 kg whole for the dish. I used a red kuri squash for the pictured dish, which was great. Though I slightly prefer pumpkin here, I've made kaddo bourani with butternut squash as well, which can be easier to find, and it's tasty that way too. (I've also tried making it with frozen cubed butternut, but I recommend starting with a fresh pumpkin or squash for the best flavor.)
There are two ways you can prep the pumpkin to serve with the beef: by roasting in the oven, or by pressure cooking it in an Instant Pot (or similar cooker). Both methods take about 30 minutes, but the Instant Pot method is easier in that you don't have to deal with cutting up a whole, raw pumpkin. Instead, the whole thing goes into the pressure cooker (stem and all). After it cools enough to handle, the skin should come right off for you, the seeds come out in a big clump, and it's easy to cube. However, if you prefer to roast or your pumpkin won't fit inside your Instant Pot, you can halve the pumpkin or squash, remove the seeds, and roast it cut-side-down on a sheet pan at relatively high heat instead. As with the pressure cooking method, you'll peel the pumpkin and cube the flesh after it cools enough to handle. Instructions for both methods are included in the recipe card below.
Making the beef
While the pumpkin is cooking, you can make the beef topping for it. Like many a ground beef dish, it starts with browning up onions and garlic, then crisping the meat and cooking it through. Then a bit of tomato paste gets stirred in, along with spices: turmeric, coriander, and a smidge of cinnamon, plus salt, of course.
The creamy mint sauce
Traditionally, kaddo bourani is served with one of Afghanistan's famous yogurt sauces. By using coconut cream, it's easily made dairy-free and the flavor is great. The coconut cream is mixed with some lemon juice, garlic powder, and dried mint, plus salt. If you don't have dried mint, you can substitute about 1 Tbsp of minced fresh mint leaves instead.
Assembling kaddo bourani
To serve kaddo bourani, mound up some pumpkin cubes and ladle the meat sauce over the mound. You can either serve it with the creamy mint sauce drizzled on top, or separately in a small dish, like in the photos.
Looking for more meat dishes from the world kitchen?
- Instant Pot Beef Tagine with Israeli Couscous
- Lachmajun - Middle Eastern Meat-Topped Flatbreads
- Cinnamon-Skewered Beef Kebabs
- Hummus with Spiced Beef (Hummus im Basar)
- Chicken Tagine with Apricots over Couscous
Kaddo Bourani - Afghani Pumpkin with Beef (meat)
For the pumpkin:
- 1 pumpkin - any variety intended for cooking rather than decoration, e.g. a 2.5 lbs. "Sugar Pie" pumpkin
For the beef:
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic - minced or pressed
- 1 to mato - optional
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ⅛ tsp cinnamon
For the coconut topping:
- ½ cup coconut cream
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp dried mint
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
First, make the coconut topping:
- Combine the coconut cream, lemon juice, salt, mint, and garlic powder. Put in the refrigerator to chill.
Next, prepare the pumpkin - oven method:
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut your pumpkin in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Place it cut side down on a lined sheet pan. Roast for about 30 minutes or until soft, but still holds its shape. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let it cool. Cut the pumpkin into wedges, then cut the pumpkin away from the skin and cut the flesh into cubes.
Prepare the pumpkin - Instant Pot method:
- Place the rack inside the Instant Pot. Pour 1 cup of water into the inner pot. Place the whole pumpkin on the rack. Set the lid to sealing and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Release the steam manually, then allow the pumpkin to cool enough to handle. Peel off the skin (it will come off easily, almost by itself). Discard the seeds. Cut the flesh into cubes.
Make the meat sauce:
- Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Mince the onion and add to the skillet, cooing until browned, 5 minutes or so. Add the garlic and tomato, if using, and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Push everything to the sides of the skillet. Place the ground beef in the center and cook, breaking up, until browned on both sides and cooked through. Season with the spices.
- Add the tomato paste, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until ready to eat.
- Mound the pumpkin cubes on a plate, then top with the meat sauce and drizzle with coconut sauce.