Friday, February 8, 2013

Pumpkin Stew

Now is pumpkin season in Mozambique!

While our pumpkins might not be very big (or very orange), they are still plentiful and nutritious, which means that they are a staple part of the Mozambican diet.  Starting in late December and continuing until mid-March, pumpkins are available in most markets, nation-wide.  And while these pumpkins aren't really much to look at (read:  small, brown, and hard), the vegetable inside tastes familiar, orange, and comforting-- just like the pumpkins back at home.

I can't remember eating a lot of pumpkin when I lived in the United States.  I thought of pumpkin more as a "flavor" than as an actual vegetable.  Outside of the traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie and the occasional fancy pumpkin roll, I never really considered pumpkin to be realistic ingredient, much less the basis for an entire meal.  Here in Mozambique, however, the pumpkin is a rainy-season staple.  

So what do you do when your pumpkin doesn't come in a can?  What do you do when your neighbor hands  you a full-grown, uncooked pumpkin, rind, stem and all?  How can you possibly coax a dish out of that crusty-looking gourd?

You get cookin', that's what you do!  Start your oven, light your charcoal, or stoke your trusty mud-brick oven.  Let's all make a pumpkin stew!  This is a recipe your friends will be "vi-'ne" to borrow.  

100 Ways to Cook a Pumpkin:  For more realistic, American-style recipes, visit Endless Simmer

So let's say that you just returned home from the market.  You're carrying five large tomatoes, one onion, one green pepper, one hot pepper, and one giant, uncooked pumpkin.  

"Great," you think to yourself.  "I just spent 66 cents on this giant, uncooked pumpkin.  What on earth did I do that for?  What should I do now?"

Don't fear, young Peace Corps volunteer (or incredibly dedicated reader).  Have I got the recipe for you!  Follow the instructions below to create a simple, hearty basic pumpkin stew with just a few materials.  And for just 10 cents a serving, it won't even "squash" the bank!

Step 1:  Remove the pumpkin rind.  Toss into the yard.
Step 2:  Remove seeds and cut remaining pumpkin into cubes
Step 3:  Put cubes in a pot, fill with water, and set to boil

Step 4:  Cut onion. 
Step 5:  Add garlic
Step 6:  Cut piri-piri (hot pepper).  Just one will do.  
Step 7:  Saut√© piri-piri with onion and garlic.
Depending on your level of integration, this can be done with 2 to 45 tablespoons of oil.
Step 8:  Cut tomatoes
Step 9:  And green peppers
Step 10:  Add to the onions, garlic, and piri-piri
Step 11:  Choose your spices.  Note:  The spice on the right is salt, not peanut butter.
Step 12:  Saut√©.  (Remember, salt, not peanut butter)
Step 13:  Add cooked pumpkin
Step 14:  Stir until the stew is boiling and looks mushy!
 A teaspoon of pure MSG is optional at this point.
Step 15:  Serve with naan (above) or tortillas
(or rice or noodles or crackers or xima)
Step 16:  Eat!  Best enjoyed on cheap enamel serving-ware whilst all of the neighborhood kids look on
Step 17:  Dessert!  If you are lucky enough to have inherited a toaster oven, try making banana bread!
Every ingredient is available in Mozambique:  Bananas, flour, oil, milk, sugar, baking soda, and eggs.
 Bonus: you can substitute pumpkins for bananas to make a really delicious pumpkin bread!

Bom apetit!

There's never been a better time to "gourdge" on pumpkins.

Hehe.

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